Monday, June 17, 2013

"Now and again, it is necessary to seclude yourself among deep mountains and hidden valleys to restore your link to the source of life. Breathe in and let yourself soar to the ends of the universe; breathe out and bring the cosmos back inside. Next, breathe up all fecundity and vibrancy of the earth. Finally, blend the breath of heaven and the breath of earth with your own, becoming the Breath of Life itself."

~ Morihei Ueshiba

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Home Sweet, Portland

I will be the first to admit that I never anticipated transitional anxiety about moving to a city as familiar as Portland. New job and co-worker anxiety? Sure, whatever. But PORTLAND anxiety? Never ever saw it coming.

But it hit me like a freight train. I settled immediately into my new job, my boards, and my social life, but for some reason my hometown of Portland felt intense.  Within two weeks of me moving here, I was in need of a yoga studio. I dated around and read all kinds of reviews, and despite the god awful name, I found my safe haven in a small studio on Hoyt called YoYoYogi--and thank goodness I did! It became my transitional sanctuary. There were times I felt that I was downright hiding while I was in practice, but it was mine.

When moving to a city, you cling to things that feel like yours (despite the fact that literally hundreds of others share this place with you.). I instantly clung to my yoga studio, my route to the streetcar, and the coffee shop on the end of my block.

I love being here.
Oh my gosh, I love being here.

My new job is good, but there is a pretty strong office divide between Program staff and Development staff. This is something that I am not used to. At my old office, we were lively, energetic, and danced a lot (.....and watched a lot of dumb YouTube videos). My new office is very toxic in the sense that I feel lots of negative energy headed my way for being the new kid. I am not sure I was ever given the benefit of the doubt in the beginning with the program staff, and I am frequently set up for failure. It's not the most supportive environment--but instead of confronting them and saying "Hey. Y'all are being assholes", in the most Melissa fashion,  I just put my head down and work really really really hard. My achievements and my successes are my silent "HA!" to them.
I'm totally okay with this system. Because--you know what? I'm good at my job. Like, really good.

As silly as this is, I was blatantly disrespected by a co-worker right before I got off the clock last week, and  on the street car ride home my iPod shuffled onto Brother Ali's song Forest Whitaker and I laughed as I mentally sang the lyrics:
"I'ma be all right, you ain't gotta be my friend tonight (you ain't gotta love me)
I'ma be okay, you would probably bore me anyway (you ain't gotta love me)"
And if you know the "la-da-da-da-da-da's" that go with that song, you know how oddly satisfying those "la's" are to sing. You simply just don't give a damn.

I feel I've got something to prove in PDX.
A desire to stand tall, be present.
A desire to ground myself and use a little less sarcasm and give a lot more high-fives.

On a side note:
There really isn't a local place that I am drawn to yet for climbing, But spring is here, so we Oregonian's can climb outside again. Though I did climb with my dear friend Adrienne and her main squeeze, Steph recently--and you know what? I was terrible!
My arms were all shaky and wimpy and my endurance wasn't so hot. But holy crap, it was fun.
I laughed humbly at the terrible climber that I had become. I stepped away from my old 5.10's and hung out with the 5.8's (some of which were even exhausting), but I was electric. Never once did I compare to the others around me, and while the three of us all were climbing on different levels, we encouraged one another on a united front. Speaking of--Adrienne--you're a damn beast. You go girl!

I am 9 weeks deep in this new adventure. My feet are finally planted. The anxiety is finally gone. I feel present and connected with my new digs.

It's already been a crazy ride.
Bring it on.

Welcome home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

As my heart goes to Boston, my anger rises

I don't like that my first entry in Portland is this one, but I am worried.
Soon I'll "publish" the other posts I've been tinkering with the past few months, but the moment is now wrong.

The bombings that happened in Boston this afternoon are jarring.

When my friend called me from Boston a few hours ago to tell me that she was safe, I was thoroughly confused. I scrolled around on NPR as she told me that two bombs had gone off near at the Boston Marathon finish line, but the news wasn't on the web yet.

Moments later the headlines switched and so did my anger.
I immediately thought of the race that I finished just yesterday in Portland.
I thought of Adam who's completed nearly 10 marathons and runs almost daily.
I thought of myself and as a cheering supporter- beaming with pride as I watch people cross the finish line.

This is unacceptable.
These shootings, these bombings, these cries of anger and revenge.
I can't tell if our world is getting worse, or if I am just getting older--It's likely a fusion of both.

I also don't get it.

Below are 2 tweets that really stood out to me this afternoon:

via @tomgoom: "A marathon is a collection of amazing people that have worked hard, sweated & sacrificed. Why them? #bostonmarathon"

via @NBCSN: "Reports of Marathon Runners that crossed finish line and continues to run to Mass General Hospital 2 give blood #PrayforBoston"

If by some chance anyone from Boston is reading this. Please--open your hearts, homes, and veins.

I on the other hand will lace my Nikes back up tonight despite my sore legs.
I will hit the sidewalk with the attempt to balance respect with disgust.
I will run as far as I need to in order to regain my own personal level towards the acceptance of humanity.
If you are a runner, I'd encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Set your intentions...Build your community

Portland captured during a rooftop conversation, paired with a cup of coffee

I am slowly relocating.
Relocating my passions
Relocating my efforts
Relocating my love
My time
My process
My meditation.

I feel myself disconnecting from my home.

When I packed my bags and headed for Europe I was a 19 year old kid ready to experience another culture and another way of thinking. I hardly looked back at the home and the town that I was leaving.  I knew "MoTown" (Monmouth), my small college town, would be right there waiting for me when my Euros ran out and my clothes had reached the utmost level of stank. Sure enough, months later, there she was, just the same.

I have been a residence of this town for nearly seven years now. The thought of that gives me a sense of pride and a conflicting demand that I damn well deserve an award for lasting this long. I've had short stints of living in neighboring cities and one stint of moving home completely, devoting 2 hours a day to my commute, but alas, Monmouth was home.

Though lately my college town has turned into a crash pad. Home to my skis and gear, home to my Sly's automated food dispenser, home to my comfy bed, but no longer home to my soul.

My gravitational pull with moving to the city began about a year ago. I slowly deepened my memberships with Portland causes that I supported, and without realizing it, found excuses to head north on the 5. I planted myself right into the Portland community. I now serve on two Portland  boards' programming committees, I am dating a great man who lives and works in Portland, and am deep in the interview process and job hunt seeking development work in the metro area.

I am setting my intentions to become a part of this community. I feel a connection stronger than any connection that I've ever felt with a hometown. Some people move to the country when they feel this, but I yearn to move to a city who runs on volunteerism and giving.

I know it may sound odd, but I also feel that Monmouth is letting me go. She is ready for me to expand and move closer to the mountain, the desert, my community, and my partner. I finally feel ready. I am not leaving out of spite or challenge (though Monmouth has a way of driving people out, trust me), and I am not leaving knowing that she will always be there to catch me. I am leaving town knowing that I will never again live here--but forever thankful of all she gave me.

I am setting my intentions and packing my boxes.

I can't tell you how excited I am.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Comparison and Inspiration

"Yard-sticking", or comparing yourself to your peers is an extremely easy thing to do.  
"He is such a stronger climber than I am.... 
She is so much prettier than me.... 
Wow, look at his credentials, he's so much more qualified for the position.... 
I could never make my macaroons taste better than hers..."
I was trying to kill off the last hour of my 9-5 by catching up on my latest edition of Forbes online. As I flipped through the electronic pages, an article on the Summit boys showed up. This was twice in the last month that the founders of Summit Series had an article devoted to their accomplishments and future endeavors.

I first heard of Summit via Outside magazine. The article revolved around the recent philanthropic purchase of a mountain. Yes, a mountain. Please take the time to read the full story here. Is worth your time I promise.

Done reading? Awesome.

These four founders went out and purchased a the 10,000 acre Powder Mountain to take philanthropy and creative brainstorming to the next level. My jaw dropped as I initially skimmed through the article. I could feel this sense of lust for their success as my body seared with a dull ache at the thought that I could someday become large enough professionally to get to Powder Mountain and attend their conference.

"I'm a do-gooder! I want to change the world! Pick me! Pick me!" 

The latest Forbes article (find here) refers to Summit's Powder Mountain as "Endeavor Camp"; The home of the next wave of innovation. That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? The article touches on the idea that these four twentysomethings raised enough to create the Summit Series conference while their peers are working to scrape up enough dough to buy their first home (or hell, even their first apartment).

I'm one of those peers. 3 years deep in the non-profit field, just shy of twenty-five, experiencing the daily balance of financial stability and sense of adventure. I couldn't help but compare myself to these Summit guys. If this was a game, they were TOTALLY winning.

After reading the Forbes article, I logged on and readdressed both my twitter and online non-profit groups by adding more forward-thinking companies and following more of my peers. I then signed up for the 2013 Community Leadership Conference in Portland, and brushed up on the projected trends of fundraising in 2013. 

By this point it was way past 5:00 yet I remained in my work chair and took the extra time to reflect on how I personally help move my own community forward. Honestly, I do a lot. I volunteer, I serve on committees, I work for a 501(c)(3), I give to numerous organizations that I believe in, I participate in online discussions about my field, attend conferences, and I often encourage others to serve on boards of their own interests and push their own communities forward. Maybe you're in the writing community--take the time to edit others' work, or tutor a kid who's having a hard time in English class. Maybe you're in the nerdy-nature community--lead a hiking group! Teach people how deeply rooted the love for nature really is. Move someone else forward.

My mind was gone; brainstorming various creative ways that I could bring in those extra dollars at work so that I could help more students. It was then that I realized that I wasn't comparing myself to the Summit Series founders because I was envious of them; in fact, I was inspired by them. 

I suppose that inspiration can be seen as a form of positive comparison. Something you work to be compared to, to be associated with; held to their high standards and levels of respect. 

I may never get to that mountain in Ogden, Utah, but look at what I've accomplished even in these last few hours through reflections on learning about more of my peers that I believe have already "made it". 

As a community we lead and positively compare and inspire others. It is through our actions and mentality that we can help one another get to the higher levels of  achievement.

Hats off you guys. Cheers.