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#MondayMotivation - This week, upcoming trips!

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I often use upcoming trips as motivation. I know I have touched on this before, made Monday Motivation posts about it before, and yet here I am again. Right now, we’re looking to camp at a local state park at the end of the week, if my family can get a reservation. Right now, Texas Parks and Wildlife is updating their reservation system with a new, much better system that allows for specific campsite reservations which will change my life for the better. So, since my uncle works near the park we want to visit this weekend, he’s going to stop in and try to reserve something in person. Here’s to hoping. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m going to head there to hike anyway.

On February 7, I fly to Minneapolis and then drive to Duluth. My buddy and I are taking our annual trip to his family cabin near the Boundary Waters. (If you haven’t voiced your support for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and want to, please do so!) We will get up there on Thursday night, pack it up, and then head to the cabin Friday morning. We’ll stop at the wonderful Gun Flint Tavern in Grand Marais, hit up the IGA and local co-op if they’re open, then make our way up to the frozen lake. I can’t wait to be off the grid, away from it all. I can’t wait to snowshoe, to drink Leinenkugel's original, and to spend some time with the trees and snow. We will head back to civilization on Sunday afternoon, and back to Texas on Monday evening. It’s going to be a great little first quarter reset.

Work is fine, life is alright, hiking is great, but I’m always up for a reset. It’s never a bad thing to shut off the tech for a minute and get back to real life.

These events/ideas/plans are getting me through the next two weeks. Also, the song I’ve attached at the beginning is one of my favorite songs of all time by my favorite band of all time. When I was in Seward and it was rainy as ever, I’d listen to this song on my morning walks around the streets as I waited for everyone to wake up. Every morning can be a beautiful morning, remember that.

Been friends since 2003, so more like family now. Doesn’t hurt that he has access to the cabin, kidding!

Been friends since 2003, so more like family now. Doesn’t hurt that he has access to the cabin, kidding!

#MondayMotivation - I'm motivated by the mountains.

Flying in to Anchorage in the summertime affords an amazing view of the mountains. That was my initial inspiration for writing this post. From seeing those mountains, to seeing Mount St. Helens flying into Portland, or Mt. Hood flying out the mountains inspire me. I’m thankful for every little peek I get of them, being from such a flat area and growing up even further from real mountains.

In my current physical and mental state, I wasn’t able to do all of the mountain things I wanted to do at Mount Rainier last year and it really bums me out. I know what I want to do, I know how to do it, and I know what I want. I will not go back to Mount Rainier without doing what I want in terms of exploration. I will devote more time and energy to making it happen and so, I am motivated by the mountains.

I want to be physically and mentally ready for the mountains on my next adventure and I’m going to take smaller steps throughout the time before my next visit to get there. I’m going to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park and get in there, I’m going to hopefully visit New Mexico again, and then I’ll tackle the mountain I can’t get out of my mind - Rainier. I’ve seriously been unable to think about that park since I left. I mean, I can’t stop thinking about the Olympic Peninsula, Northern California, or Utah either… but, ya know.

I’m so lucky I’ve been able to go anywhere, really, and I know that. I am so lucky we have this land and I’m so grateful for where it came from and the people who inhabited it first. I’m anxious to get back out into nature beyond local trails, but that will have to wait for the right time - hopefully soon.

I hope you find something to motivate you to do the things you dream of doing.

#MondayMotivation - After a day off...

I can find myself slipping into the negative “UGH, it’s Monday” routine. I’m fortunate, I get two days off in a row every week which means I can plan my life around a schedule. Some people, however, don’t have that luxury and get sporadic days off or no days off if they have to work several jobs. I sit here, thinking, thank goodness I have job and thank goodness I had two days off. Yeah, going back to work can be a drag after two days off, but Mondays (or whatever your Monday is) is just a buffer zone for the rest of the week. Think of it as the first time you do something, it starts off a little rocky but smooths out eventually. Some weeks never smooth out, I know, but without Monday, Tuesday would suck just as hard. It’s all about perspective. Getting through Monday gets me one day closer to my next set of days off. I’m not saying I’m cheerful and grateful all the time, but I’m really trying today by putting these positive thoughts out to y’all. Have a great week and find something about it you love!

Who cares what might have been?

I try not to dwell on what might have been had I done something differently in my life. BUT, there is one decision I wonder about and it takes over my brain from time to time. If I had taken the city planning/code enforcement job with the City of Westworth Village (on the west side of Fort Worth) instead of the control room operator job at Quicksilver Resources, where would I be? Quicksilver paid better, a ton better, and it was an obvious choice from a financial standpoint. I was just starting to come out of my dark hole of financial depression - I had been paying my bills in full, and on time, for the first time in MONTHS. I was starting to know what it felt like to be an adult, despite having to borrow my aunt’s car to go to the job interview because mine didn’t have air conditioning. I felt Quicksilver was the responsible choice, and I don’t think I was wrong about that, in the end.

I accepted a job, in the oil & gas industry, and essentially felt I had backed myself into a corner career wise. There are a lot of energy jobs in Texas and nationwide, but I wasn’t learning skills that would make me valuable to many companies. I sat in a control room, a data center with 12 screens, and monitored natural gas production for three years. I finally found a way out and ended up in the environmental department to learn new skills. I started to learn about environmental remediation, permitting, and plenty of other marketable skills but was laid off within about 15 months because the company had failed and filed bankruptcy. I ended up back in a control center, for another failing company, as a contract employee on a non-permanent basis. I jumped at my current role, another environmental job, but have been there for two years and haven’t had many opportunities to learn new things or see any room for advancement. I don’t hate the work, but I don’t love it either. It’s pretty normal, from the sounds of it to feel that way about work. Who knows?

I wonder what I could be doing if I had accepted the planning job, for less money. Would I be happier, more fulfilled? Would I have a solid foundation for a career in city planning? Would I be struggling with my bills the same way I am now, or worse?

Things that wouldn’t have gone away: my habits. I have bad habits when it comes to spending and saving. I don’t think any amount of money, short of six figures, would solve that problem. I feel if I had taken the road through city planning, I’d be below my current and previous pay grades, which were higher, but maybe I’d feel more challenged and have more room for growth? I don’t know, like I said, I try not to waste too much time on the whole concept.

I do know one thing going forward, I’m not going to solely follow the money - unless it’s a LOT of money. I’d like to learn new skills, get into a career that offers room to grow and challenges me along the way. I’d love to work with a city, county, or state government. Only time will tell what happens with my current job, but I know if I don’t make the positive changes it’s going to continue to just be okay enough to stay.

Instead of going over the scenarios and wondering how my life could have been different, I will focus on the HERE AND NOW. I will try to find ways to improve my current life, career path, and mindset. Instead of wasting brain power on the “what if” thoughts, I’m going to harness it into “if this, than that.” I’m not always successful at getting out of my own head, especially when I’m having a bad day, but I have worked hard to be mindful about this topic and I plan to work hard to carve the path I want instead of what I “backed myself into” or “what the industry says I should do.”

#MondayMotivation - Good Stuff.

When my friends and acquaintances share their health or life progress and push forward even if it’s difficult or painful, it’s inspiring. When I see the person who is struggling as hard as me but still going during lap three, I’m inspired, When that lady at the Target checkout was just so chipper and patient, I was inspired. I’ve been finding motivation at every turn, and I think it is mostly because I’ve adopted a better attitude towards everything.

I really have to work hard to forge my own positive attitude, as I’m sure many do, because of the negativity surrounding us in our various circles of life. I don’t always succeed, but I’ve been very good about just being the “silver lining” guy or staying away from things that spark negative mindsets.

I’m drawing inspiration from things and people in new ways, taking notes all the time, and trying to find more people to connect with on a real level. When I’m positive about one thing, it bleeds over into another and I’m back on track with everything in no time at all.

Other Motivational Items this Monday:

  • Cool, rainy weather in Texas has made me feel ALIVE! Bring it on.

  • It’s Autumn… ‘nuff said.

  • This is the FINAL week of being gone ALL week for a while. Just normal, short trips ahead.

  • There’s a new Singletrack to listen to while driving around all week.

  • I only have about 6 more books to read before 2019!

#MondayMotivation - Refreshing!

It's Labor Day, but I wrote this days before because I'm currently not at my computer. You wouldn't have known that if I hadn't just told you, but here we are...

Find something that refreshes your soul. Every now and then, I get a little stuck or a little down and I need to do something to refresh my life. I have been in a hiking slump, because of the gross Texas summer, but I've been lucky enough to get away a few times and it really re-lit the fire under my butt.

Things that I find help me refresh:

  • A good book or audiobook - I did this last week and went through two great books and just felt a part of my brain wake up that had been sleeping
  • New food - eat something different or learn to make something (new) or different than your normal, every day food. Find a new flavor - change it up!
  • Go watch a movie - find a movie to get lost in or something to offer a new perspective like a documentary or a dumb comedy. Amazon or Netflix both have a bunch of random stuff.
  • Travel - if you can afford it, go! I do cheap little camping trips that are nearby when I really need to reset and refresh. I've done flights, too, and I find those help when they're in the budget.
  • Join a new group - find new people to hang out with! REFRESH that friend group! I'm in the process of finally meeting up the meetup people...after months of anxiety.
  • Join a cause to stand up for - Find a candidate or cause and work in support or spread the word! It can be revitalizing to share your beliefs, in an appropriate way.
  • Take a course - I'm currently taking a course on writing a website so that maybe someday I can modify my code to make things more person. It's a lot more difficult than I though, but it's definitely fun to challenge myself - very refreshing.

What ways do you refresh your life? What really gets you going? I hope, if you need a refresh, that you find something that works for you. Feel free to share it with me!

#MondayMotivation - Looking Forward (to it)

I've talked before about how having something to look forward to really helps motivate me to push through and this week is no different.  As I sit here, I have less than 5 days until I board a plane and meet my BFF in Salt Lake City for a weekend of adventure.  Last year, when I was going to book a trip alone, I invited her and since we had such a good time we decided to make it an annual thing.  I have been looking forward to this trip for weeks, if not months, and now that it's finally here I'm so excited and in such an extra good mood as a result.

In a little less than three weeks I'll be boarding a plane to Michigan for an extended Labor Day weekend.  I get to hike, see my family, and hopefully take a quick dip in the lake.  All of these things to look forward to are privileges and I'm aware of how lucky I am to have them.  I don't always have the time or money to adventure so here are the main things I look forward to that keep me going:

  • A day off from work
  • That moment you get home from work and walk through the door unloading your crap, taking your shoes off, and then changing into comfy clothes
  • Dinner (especially if my other half makes it)
  • A funny TV show or anything on Food Network as a mindless escape
  • A walk to the mailbox with the dog
  • Maybe, maybe, exercising... this may be a stretch, or maybe I'm glad when it's over?
  • A hike at a local trail
  • A scheduled friend phone call
  • Rocking out to my jams in the car
  • Listening to NPR in the morning
  • Smelling the coffee brewing as I am getting out of bed
  • Meatloaf the cat bugging me for food in the morning
  • Reading through articles about nature and outdoorsy stuff

Find the little things that keep you going.  Find happiness in the simple things.  Find happiness in complex things... just find something that makes you happy and add it to your day as something to look forward to.  Recently, I started a free online course to improve my skills and now I look forward to learning again.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

Life isn't always fun, fair, or balanced but if we try we can find things to look forward to and enjoy along the way.

#MondayMotivation - Journal Time!

In trying to write my big four part series of the road trips that started it all, I've been finding more and more little journals all over the place.  I have some devoted to travel, one for thoughts, a few with scribbles that aren't important, and a few more that are just empty.  Reading through has been helpful, insightful, and of course reflective.

Travel

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I have three travel journals, I think there's one more somewhere though, because I tend to forget them when I actually travel.  The original, started in 2008, documents the second, third, and fourth spring break trips, a trip to Minnesota and Michigan, and a few nights I was in West Texas for work.  A second journal, bought in Alaska, has details from my 2017 trip to Alaska, a camping trip to New Mexico, the drive home from Portland, and my 2017 BFF trip last year to Utah.  I have a THIRD journal is specific to my recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula earlier this year, and only has one or two pages of writing.  I'm debating how to go forward with these journals.  Obviously, step one, is to be more mindful about bringing a journal along and restricting myself from buying a new one.  Step two is to remember to record things that pop into my head - either as a voice note or in the designated journal.  Step three, probably the most important, is to slow down and take everything in.  You can be efficient while enjoying everything and remembering it.

The original travel journal has a lot of funny quotes, phrases I can't quite understand, and writing from everyone on the trip.  It is a special piece of the past and I honestly think I didn't really continue writing in it because trips like those didn't happen anymore.  Making peace with the way things used to be and moving forward is what I'm doing and I'll continue to fill it in for years to come.

Thoughts

My thoughts journal is my most personal.  It contains those thoughts you can't say aloud or to anyone else, but need to put them somewhere other than your head.  This particular thought journal started in 2015 and has a few gaps in there, but has something from every year.  When something is just too big, good or bad, I write it down.  By writing it down, I'm breaking it apart and finding whatever it wholly is, it's just pieces put together.

The Motivation Part (or whatever)

I don't know how inspirational or motivating this post is, but it's just a way for me to highlight that writing or recording thoughts can be a helpful exercise in maintaining some clarity.  If I didn't have the website, these journals, or my phone (for recording thoughts while driving), I'd probably be even more anxious and scatterbrained.  I encourage anyone to scribble for a bit and see what it does for you.  Maybe writing it all out will help organize your thoughts, or maybe it will do nothing for you.  Either way, it's worth a shot.

#MondayMotivation - Driving helps me organize my thoughts

I'm looking back at the past 18 months or so and I can hardly believe that I accomplished something as simple and motivated as hiking every week for a year.  I finally got out to hike yesterday after being sick to my stomach the previous Sunday and it was as Invigorating as I had hoped it would be.  I went somewhere new, saw new landscapes, and felt the sun beat down on me once again.  I hiked five miles, not the furthest by far, but far enough to find joy again.  I drove three hours to hike and wander for just about the same, but it was worth every minute.  Driving used to be my thing - set some music, open the moonroof, hit the road, process everything in the world, and return in a better place.  The recent drive to the wildlife refuge in Oklahoma brought me close to that old feeling of driving therapy and made the hike even better.  My brain was relaxed, my mind was flowing, and my body was ready for the day.  I look forward to more long drives to hiking destinations to give me a moment with the open road, my thoughts, and nothing else.

I had some thoughts while driving home, this is a snippet of me just getting the words out so I can reflect.  I'm truly grateful to have the ability to live this life and I look forward to building on the experiences of the past year and a half.  I hope you all can find some inspiration out there and keep pushing forward.

#MondayMotivation - Power Through

Do you ever have an upcoming trip and that's all you can think about?  Me too.

Currently, I have a big project to finish at work and I have to finish moving things from the old apartment over to the new place, as well as clean both.  I have a lot to do, but I can't stop daydreaming about my upcoming trip.

In just under two weeks I'll be flying to Seattle and taking a rental car through the Olympic Peninsula for three days.  I keep checking trail conditions, local weather reports, and the Olympic National Park website.  But, I need to keep moving to clean out and organize the apartments, finish that big work project and get it submitted to the government before I'm in the clear.

This post may be short and without a real point except to say... "POWER THROUGH" whatever you've got going on so you can get outside to enjoy what nature has in store for you.  Power through your work project, ice that knee, and get going!

#MondayMotivation - Make it happen!

Standing out on Spectra Point at Cedar Breaks National Monument (one of my "Must See" places in Utah)

It was May of 2017 when I bought the round trip ticket from DFW to SLC.  I was going to Utah in mid-August, for a weekend, and I was ecstatic.  I was flying out after work on a Friday and flying home on a Sunday night because I didn't have any vacation left to use - it just all fell into place.  I had been tossing the idea of revisiting Utah around for a while and I was tracking flights for weeks.  I knew I had to go and I decided to make it happen.

While it was a short hike, it was exhilerating to be walking along the rim.

Booking that flight was a rush.  Planning the trip was easy and only continued to build my excitement while allowing me to feel the reality of it all sinking in.  I had solid plans, some "must do" moments, and a daily itinerary to maximize the time available for adventure.  I opened it up to friends and let everyone in my outdoor circle know what my plans were and that I was open to anyone joining in.  My best friend Molly decided she could make that weekend work and would be flying out to join me.  Her company and our chance to reconnect easily made that weekend one of the best in 2017.

The might Bristlecone Pine - Cedar Breaks National Monument

The 52 Hike Challenge was a major motivator in 2017 as were the various outdoor communities I had connected to online.  I had been camping and hiking more than ever before in my life, I couldn't let a weekend go by without something happening.  When my hikes were getting repetitive, I knew I needed a change of pace and a weekend away.  I looked at many cities, tracked flights for weeks, and weighed many options, but Salt Lake City just worked for that moment and I'm glad it did.  I would have flown anywhere for a weekend if the flights and prices worked out so I researched many places - Vegas for Death Valley, Portland for Crater Lake or the coast, Seattle for Olympic, etc.  Through this adventure I learned that I could make a weekend work, even with a flight, and that I actually thrived with a limited amount of time because I made every view, rest stop, and moment of daylight count.

I'm thankful that I have the resources to do a spontaneous weekend, because I haven't always been in that position.  I'm aware that I'm privileged to be able to run away for 48 hours and see the beauty our country has to offer.  I know not everyone can just book a flight and explore.  My point with this Monday Motivation is to simply make it happen if you want it to happen.  It could be pushing yourself to get outside locally, hiking further next time, finding a friend and taking that weekend road trip, or booking a flight and exploring your favorite places.  Too often I fall victim to my own laziness, so this is also a reminder to myself to keep going and make it happen.

A picture from my BRIEF visit (drive through) in 2009.

I've been obsessing over the Olympic Peninsula for months now, so I just booked a flight over Easter weekend to Seattle so I can go hike and reinvigorate myself and find new motivation.  Anyone is free to join, but I will be hiking the Ozette Triangle Loop (Olympic National Park on the coast) on Saturday, so plan accordingly.  I'm taking suggestions and recommendations for things you love about the Olympic Peninsula and things I "must see" while I'm there.  I fly in Thursday night, late, and fly home over night for a Monday morning arrival before work.  I'm so excited, probably even more than the flight to Utah last year.  Here's to making it happen! 

#MondayMotivation - 2017 Was a Damn Good Year

Today is my aunt’s birthday, and I was looking back at photos to share in a Facebook post to celebrate her life.  I went scrolling through the 2017 photos to rediscover that we had some fun nights, plenty of summer boat days, spirited holiday gatherings, and a nice hike at one of my favorite local spots.  While scrolling through I got distracted, as I often do, by all of the hikes and all of the beautiful places I visited throughout the year and it led me to one conclusion:  2017 was a damn good year.

I embarked on the 52 Hike Challenge, not knowing what to expect.  Looking back the results were all I could have hoped for.

  • I got out more, every week to be precise

  • I reconnected with nature

  • I met a ton of virtual support

  • I saw new things, beautiful things, some that were right in my own state

  • I started to get a better mental clarity

  • I didn’t really get in “better” shape, but I maintained a weight for most of the year and strengthened my legs

  • I spent valuable time with friends on the trail

  • It let me to find my passion - getting people outdoors - and I’m finally branching into that area of helping people get outdoors and finding that equality balance

  • It didn’t cost me a lot of money, well to actually get outside anyway

  • It kept me sane, grounded, and on schedule with other things in my life

  • It’s helped me get even more fired up for our public lands and all that we need to do to protect and fund them

I visited a few National Park units, plenty of local state parks, and some new local trails.  I spent more time outdoors in 2017 than I had in the six years prior.  I haven’t been this excited for life in a LONG time.  I grew up with hundreds of acres at my disposal and I was always outside.  As I aged into those teenage years, I found myself outside less but still not opposed to spending time in the woods or at the lake.  In college, I camped and road tripped so the outdoors was back in play, a little.  I eventually took a job a city park ranger and did some unrelated trail work for my major - wildlife management.  A few trips here and there through the years had me camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Arches National Park, and along the Loneliest Road in the USA.  When I moved to Texas in 2011, the outdoors seemed to be on the back burner.  I did a lot of boating and I did a few road trips between 2012 and 2017, but it wasn’t until the hiking challenge that my fire for the outdoors was reignited.

I can’t picture myself just sitting around all weekend ever again.  Sure, I have moments when I’m just feeling lazy, but the desire to be camping or hiking always wins.  Road trips west to the Oregon Coast, Redwood National & State Parks, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and western Texas over the past six years were the kindling and wood but the 52 Hike Challenge was the flame that set me on fire again.  If you find yourself feeling a bit unsure, find something that will challenge you to be a better version of yourself.  I’m not implying that everyone responds to challenges the same way, I’m just saying they work for a lot of people and maybe they’ll work for you.  Set attainable goals, focus on things you love, and find your happy place(s).  Surround yourself, in person or virtually, with people that support you and your goals.  My year of motivation is something I’m looking back at and I can’t wait to push harder, explore further, and try a bunch of new things in 2018.  Find your passion and own it.  Happy trails!

Here are some of my highlights from 2017:

Be the light. Seek the light.

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Looking through photos from our recent trip and found this one.  The flower is no larger than a dime and the clovers cover the ground and fallen logs.  It's pretty, delicate, and a representation of the variety of life that grows.  Something as tiny as a dime grows right below a towering redwood tree.  They grow in harmony and I think - as cheesy as it may be - is a metaphor for how we need to live.  We have to accept that some will tower over others, but we need to continue to reach up for the light.  Even when we have to stretch or go a few days with darkness, we have to keep reaching and growing.  Even the tiniest plant can flower and find the light and be the light for things even smaller.

*migrated from a previous blog.