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.

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! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

2 Days left until Camino trip!

I don’t have anything packed, think I have some sort of an infection since it feels like I’m fighting off sickness,  I’m exhausted and supposed to see people before I go, buy some last minute shit and still weigh gear and tweak it out.

Looks like I’m going to bring only one additional (lightweight) outfit for my trip which means for France, Finland and Corfu, I’m going to be in only 1 of 2 outfits which is different than the PCT since, there, id just be in the backcountry so couldn’t give two shits how stinky or stylish I was. Hahahaha

To be honest, I’ve been super depressed especially since a friend recently committed suicide and just one bad thing after another seems to just happen since to compound the tragic news. I don’t even really want to go but I know doing the Camino will be good for my soul. At this moment though, I doubt it’ll hit me until I’m taking my first couple of steps on the Camino or get my pilgrim passport. 

A little worried that this disassociated feeling will stay with me abroad and that I won’t feel the magic that will undoubtedly be all around me. If I don’t get any healing from this trip, I’m truly scared that my depression will get the better of me and that I’ll give up trying to live in this crazy world. Because if shocking your mind awake with new beautiful landscapes and meeting new people doesn’t do it, what will?

But one day at a time. Today, doctor and REI last minute shopping and starting of packing.

I was told that bringing a tent on the Camino is not necessary… and I do enjoy cowboy camping so thinking of leaving my tent. Can anyone vouch for this? It’s only slightly over 1 lb so still debating whether to bring it or not…

Random Musings

I feel like anyone with a bunion is like 70+ years old but apparently I have one and it’s pretty painful. I have health insurance which would cover it but recovery is supposed to be a bitch and will take around a year. I can’t afford to not do anything for another year. I think I’ll go certifiably crazy and be institutionalized for massive stir-craziness.

I have several ideas as to my Euro-trip plans (which, just before, I’ll be doing the Trans Catalina Trail with some good friends for a shakedown backpacking/hiking trip) which I’ll just spout off here. If anyone has any ideas as to activities or people/places to see at any stage of my proposed itinerary, feel free to message me or comment! I love that, in this social media age, finding amazing (and cheap) places to stay, etc, is just a little bit of networking away.

So, I’ll fly into Paris, see uncle and fam and maybe tourist it up for a couple of days before catching the train and doing the Camino pilgrimage. From there, I’m thinking I’ll fly into Corfu, stay there for a few weeks and then fly to Helsinki and stay there for a few weeks and then fly back to LA, get my shit and my van and drive up to Yellowstone for a seasonal job in beginning of August (I got a job at Yellowstone!) to save up some money and gather my thoughts as to what I’ll be doing after that.

It’s a pretty packed itinerary. I’m now having issues with my car, have to change a flight (which is becoming an issue as they won’t refund or change dates without a huge $400 fee. Might be cheaper to just get a new flight altogether and then hope the original flight, which was to fly from Helsinki to LAX in September, gets cancelled and I get a refund then. That’s happened to me once before) and money is leaking out of my savings left and right but this has to be done.

Looking into possibly working in Corfu to pay for a room whilst also exploring but they require a whole season of work which I can’t afford to do. We shall see though. I did ask if I can just work to stay for 3 weeks and am waiting for a response.

These are at least all good problems, in the sense that I wasn’t decapitated or something more serious and that it’s for a trip that’s bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just need to put my head down and work and NOT go out to eat or buy additional things other than for the trip itself.

 

Camino de Santiago 2017!!!

It’s happening.

It’s finally fuckin’ happening. I can’t wrap my head around it. But flights are booked. I’m set to leave May 9th to Paris from LA. Then September 15th, I’ll fly from Helsinki, Finland back to LA.

I will see my uncle (who I haven’t seen in FOREVER) and his beautiful family in Paris and then take the train to St. Jean Pied de Port via Bayonne to start the walk.

I’M SO EXCITED!

Other than booking the flights, I have done nearly zero prep. I refuse to read people’s blogs and personal books about it. I want my experience to be untainted by others’ experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great they document it and share their knowledge but I’m an empath so any negativity or zealous excitement about any of it  kind of starts the setting of expectations for the trip, for myself and my goals based on the data I receive from others. Soooooo, in a nutshell, I’m only going to read some best-selling pilgrim books with trail data/maps and the hostel situation and that’s about it. For me, it’s about trying to have as much of an organic experience as possible.

I also need to start doing some Spanish classes or Rosetta Stone it up. Don’t get me wrong, I live in LA so familiar with basic Spanish but that’s very little and I wouldn’t dare try to speak it so want to get on that.

I have a friend – who I met on the train after hiking at Grand Canyon and roadtripping last year –  who may meet up to do the last 100km (minimum requirement for the Compostela certificate). That’ll be a trip if we meet up. I love  just meeting people while travelling that you just click with and then end up having adventures together later in random places. I’ll just need to figure out my mileage and when I’ll be where (roughly) to make that work.

After that, it’s wandering around Europe and somehow making my way up to Finland to see the rest of the family there and reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in about 5 years, since I lived there for a bit.

Here’s the wikipedia with the history of Santiago de Compostela which is where I’ll end up unless I plan on going a bit further. My itinerary, other than the walk, is pretty much up in the air – the way I like it. I can’t plan things too much since life has a tendency to take those plans and shit on them.

Some people complain about this walk… that it’s not like any of the Triple Crown trails (Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail). To them, I say: Duh! It’s not. It’s completely different. You can’t compare them side by side fairly. For me, it’s a spiritual walk… I don’t really know what it is that I want out of it but, at the same time, I don’t want anything out of it – if that makes sense… I don’t have expectations but also expect to be changed somehow.

Hopefully my foot doesn’t fail me like it did on the PCT. Fingers and toesies crossed.