A Reoccurring Theme

30 September 2015

Okay, so admittedly it is actually kind of funny that the general topic of this post is very much related to my previous most recent post. Funny to me anyway, because though it was not intentional, it is a topic where I frequently find myself head-to-head. I wrote a little poem today that came from a place of disappoint, of gratitude, and of pleasure. Bizarre mix, I know. Here’s the quick synopsis: after finishing an amazing swim this morning with people of whom I genuinely admire as people in all aspects of personhood, I ran in to someone I have know/who has known me for probably about 12-14 years. During the albeit brief exchange I had with this person, they instantly crashed the morning high I had just earned. How did they do this? A face of judgement. We may have exchanged no more than 30 words in total between the two of us, yet they said and reacted so perfectly as to bring me down because of their negativity and lack of acceptance for a perspective that differed from their own. I don’t dig that. As I got in my car and sat for a moment instantly doubting myself in reaction to her disapproval, I quickly snapped back and realized the importance of positivity and perspective. I feel sorry that this person, amongst others, believe it’s okay to judge one on THEIR actions simply because the actions are not of their own personal norm. Remembering how much I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had because of the choices I’ve made, the places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met that I wouldn’t change for anything, this is what instantly snapped me out of that ever so quick moment out self doubt. I hope you all are able to remember to totally own your choices and be proud of the path you’ve created for yourself. Sometimes I forget this in the midst of constant disapproval but when taking that deep breath and allowing myself to feel joy in the life I’ve created, it is really wonderful. If you forget, I hope you let yourself remember. 

Alright, so quick vent sesh over. Sorry… Didn’t mean to go hippy-preach mode on you, but you get the guist. No judgement, just big smiles, please and thank you. 

Bottom line, I was inspired by this off kilter encounter and so I wrote a little something that went like this (and similar to some of my  previous poems, the format seems to always get funky…just accept it):

Life’s Trip

4000 meticulous miles

98 day old car



just three months old

where have we been? 

where will we go?

The road is wide, the road is curvaceously long

the wheels turn, but the mind travels

constantly yearning for new dirt beneath my feet 

that’s what sets my pace

the going

a destination is a place you end

so, I have no destination

because I keep going 

my wandering eyes don’t want to stay 

they crave the unseen

my feet move faster than the wheels

their hunger grows in each step

my soul feeds on the structure of daily ambiguity

yet, I have a plan 

that plan is a rest stop

on my road of continued motion

but they see instability

they dare not accept their unknown

and they cannot accept mine

I live for the next adventure

they turn off at the rest stop

my wheels move forward 

the next fantastical place beckons

the next succinct, yet paradoxically momentous, interaction between strangers awaits the alignment of the stars

me and whomever I encounter

life is a journey

it is beautiful unrehearsed experience

a ride on this road is left untaken 

when the unknown hinders your soul

my soul is free


From A Real Poet

20 August 2015

I came across a quote today that instantly shivered me from head to toe. The goose bumps came from a place of relatability and reflection. This quote by Muriel Rukeyser, a great American poet, touched me for its most simple and basic explanation of truth. 

“The journey is my home.”

Why is this so powerful? Well, I already explained the emotion it evoked within me. But that is just it. Rukeyser essentially summed up in five words the pure essence of my existence. 

Having recently moved my home base, I can’t help but to yearn for the road. I love it here – the people, the climate, the culture. It is great, don’t get me wrong. Though my true self can’t help but to feel as though I’m in a cage. Maybe a shark cage…like those cages people go in to watch sharks, I mean. I feel like I’m in that cage now, watching the sharks swim around when all I want to do is be in the open with them. 

It is that open sea that is the journey, and that too is my home. 


Cold Sweet Cold

I keep saying how I want to be better at posting more. I never finished writing about Honduras, nor did I finish my Iceland posts. Maybe I will get back to them at some point, but for now as I find myself sitting in my new apartment in Charleston, I was inspired going through pictures of Argentina. I wrote a poem today influenced greatly by my experience at the glacier. I can’t reiterate enough how wonderful it is to find yourself with a group of people who not only make you feel endless love but who offer you a sense of belonging. I’m grateful for my marathon swim family but my cold water swim family has taken me somewhere completely different, somewhere I love so deeply for its uniqueness. Here is my poem (please excuse the language, I don’t often curse but the water sometimes does that to a person), inspired by my time spent in the waters of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. It didn’t transfer quite right so imagine a break between each third line (ugh).



A Glacial Love Affair

The cold burns as you dip that first toe

A little bit further you slide the other toes in, then the foot

“What the fu*k am I doing?” you whisper to yourself

Slowly the water separates and invites you in

It clings to your epidermis as you accept its invitation

Into the frigid water

The temperature plays on the line of freezing

Your breath quickens; your body tightens

“Fu*k!” you quietly scream

No mercy is shown for he who tempts nature’s chilly pool

As the pain grows, so does the smile creeping on your face

How could you not love this pain?

When Mother Nature offers herself

Raw, cold, and unyielding

You must embrace her, for her beauty is innocent

Your entire body is submerged in the icy water

Your heart beats faster

Oh, to know you are alive!

Further in you slither

She drinks you as if nothing were more planned

Then to be here in this place, now

Your chest, your neck, your head

They sink below the door of the surface

The numbness sets in as the smile grows

It’s time to breathe

Your head breaks her wall

As your hands stab through

All you need to do is move forward

Just touch the other side

And then you can end this pain

But why would you want to?

Your muscles swim by memory

As your body is too cold to be meticulous

When you reach the other side

The smile is the only thing everyone around you sees

The real pain has only just begun

Getting out of that glacial water is necessary

But you know within

That water is where you are at home


The Good Kind of Hurt

You know that feeling you get when you push yourself so hard that every muscle in your body aches? That feeling of pure exhaustion and over exertion that hinders you natural flow? That feeling that makes you want to collapse and scream in agony, yet somehow you also want to smile because you earned that level of pain? I love that feeling. 

I can’t honestly say I was prepared for what I took on this past Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t dedicate a fraction of the time or effort most of my sea friends committed to their training because life got in the way and I let it.  

This weekend I participated in Stage One and Stage Two of the 8 Bridges swimming event in the Hudson River. This is by far one of my all time favorite events – as a swimmer and volunteer. It is also by far one of the absolute greatest open water events in the world, and is in fact the worlds longest stage race. The event is well organized and enjoyable, and takes place in an amazing location. I completed Stage Three a few years ago and loved every second. Since the first year of the event I’ve wanted to do more stages. This year I went for it and registered for the first two stages, with the ultimate goal of making my way all the way down the Hudson soon enough. 

Swimming in the Hudson is like magic. If you’ve never done it then you’re missing out. That might sound strange to most people, and I’m sure I present somewhat questionable having said that, but it’s the truth. An amazing waterway with breathtaking views, I like to think of the Hudson (particularly the 8 Bridges swimming aspect) as an escape. Where else can you transcend reality and societal norms in such a way as to put your head down for hours on end and see nothing but the silhouettes of mountains, the shapes of playful clouds, and…well, your kayaker, because let’s be honest you need them there with you and you see them at nearly every breath you take. It is therapy for the soul. 

Upon arriving upstate in preparation for this event I surprised myself in that I am not sure I’ve ever felt less nervous for an event. I was sort of waiting for it to hit me that I’d be taking on this challenging journey down the river but that slap in the face never seemed to come. I think this has something to do with how great the event is in its entirety. To be surrounded by so many talented, genuine, spirited, generous, and loving people is a special thing, and that’s what this event gives you. I don’t believe the nervous ever set in for me because of the people, my people. Like so many great open water swim events, it is easy to feel a sense of belonging that you might lack in many other aspects of life – at least that is how I feel. This same feeling came over me when I was in Vermont for the Ice Swimming Championships, the feeling of pure bliss in knowing that each individual around you shares the passion you have or nonetheless carries the desire to support that passion in you. 

I digress. Stage One was beautiful. We started off with a perfectly calm and peaceful morning picking up just a bit of chop on the second half. To be frank, I don’t have much else to say about day one because it was so great in all aspects. Oh, but I will mention how wonderful it was to finish strong with John smiling on one side, gliding through the water on the paddle board and my amazing kayaker Lizzy on the other side, with a smile on her face as she’d had all day. 

Day Two on the other hand was rough. Having been in a car accident less than two weeks ago and experiencing whiplash, I was slightly hesitant in the conditions we were experiencing. The Hudson sure likes giving us a true washing machine adventure. Hour after hour I kept waiting for the moment the river was going to calm down and the sun was going to shine. It didn’t. Despite my neck pains though, it was a fun ride! Maybe not ideal for 7+ hours of swimming but even in those testing conditions, how could one not love being toyed with by the very element in which they came to play? I love it. Toward the end of day two the current changed after only two swimmers reached the ending point, the Mid-Hudson Bridge. All the rest of us who hadn’t made the choice sooner to get out were pulled, as the speed picked up against our favor. That’s how the river works, like magic. 

Open water swimming is a test to withstand anything the elements so choose to throw ones way. It’s the price of admission to enjoy the waters and I would happily pay that price any day. Though I was a part of those pulled just shy of the bridge, I have to say I’m pretty happy with myself for swimming nearly 40 miles in two days. I wasn’t sure how my swims would end – now I know, and the worst of it is sore muscles – and I would do it again like that in a heart beat. Maybe with a little extra training time though next year. 




Iceland Day Six

1 April 2015 

Happy April Fools, ya fools! :)

Today was by far the most incredible scenic span of road we’ve driven thus far on this trip. We left our little Laekjarkot home in the mountains just outside of Borganes and headed toward Stykkishólmur. The drive was about two and a half hours but along the way there were a few fjords to check out, amongst beautiful black sand beaches. We took the long road that follows the coast line of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula because it was meant to be a beautiful drive. Well, it would have been if we were able to see the road! I was at the wheel for this leg and we had TOTAL white out conditions. Remember how I mentioned that Iceland and Florida have weather condition (despite temperature) similarities? Yeah, proof once again. The snow and winds were so intense that we couldn’t see five feet in front of us – we could barely see the car on our tail. Sorry buddy, I wasn’t in a rush to drive where I couldn’t see. Anywho, check it out… 


Once we got in to the mountains the wind calmed down a bit. Our next challenge was the curvy unplowed (seldom, at least) road that stretched the middle of nowhere.  


We came across these neat little pockets of river playing peek-a-boo through the snow. 



Until we finally saw water once again.  


When we got to the shore line we discovered the most magical black sand beaches. I’ve read of these beaches in Hawai’i but never had the chance to see them. Wow!





Every stretch along the way from here to our little town for the night was jaw dropping; the churches, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the fjords. 




These views don’t get old. We were so excited to see our first fjord! I mean, can you beat this gorgeous piece of Mother Nature goodness?!


We arrived to Stykkishólmur a bit earlier than our check in time at the hostel so we explored what the town had to offer. Now, this is a big town here in Iceland. Many told us not to miss it so we intentionally stayed the night here. Fifteen minutes after arrival we had seen it all! Ha. It’s yet another beautiful spot, don’t get me wrong! Probably one of our favorites. 



See that little red dot in the top right corner of the picture above? That’s a light house – remember that for later in this post. 


I found the famous rye bread in a little bakari (bakery) they make here. The woman in the shop told me they cook the bread for twenty four hours and in empty milk cartons. So neat! Mom, I will try to bring home an authentic recipe. SO good. 


We got a recommendation for a yummy restaurant for dinner and it just so happened to be about 8 steps from our hostel’s back door (size perspective of town). Of course the entire menu was seafood based. Do you know me? If you do, you know I don’t eat seafood. I put on my big girl pants and tried the fish burger made with a fresh cod they caught locally. Alex had a bunch of mussels and then spoon fed her self the sauce. She loved her meal; I did not. But that’s okay! I tried it, and I am beyond sure that anyone with an appreciative palate for seafood would have loved it! 



We can’t figure out if eating at 7:30 pm is equivalent to the early bird special (sunset isn’t till ~9 pm right now) or if there just aren’t enough people around to make a restaurant look full. Great spot though! And primo local brews! :) 


Once we finished dinner and dessert, we literally ran (I mean it – literally!) out the door and through the docks, across the harbor, and up a big hill to catch the last moment of the sun’s flirting colors as they submerged below in to the oceans blue. Remember that red light house a few photos ago? Yeah, that’s what we RAN up to after stuffing our faces. Wise decision? Maybe not. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. 






Still not regretting being somewhere warm x

Iceland Day Five; We Meant To Do That

31 March 2015

“That” being sleep an hour and a half past our alarm then drive an additional eight hours than intended (kind of) today. 

Let’s start with how last night ended – frozen hair in the hot tub and discussing the Northen Lights with our new friends from London. We saw one while we were all getting to know each other, though it’s probably debatable as it also may have just been a cloud. It was another beautiful night regardless. The man at the desk told us all he would give us a wake up call if the lights danced in the sky through the night but we never got that call. 

So as I mentioned we got moving a little late, we hit the road by 7:45. Our planned direction this morning initially was supposed to bring us back up a bit North of Reykavik but multiple people told us that making that extra stretch east along the southern coast toward Jökulsarlon to see the Glaciers was worth it sk that’s what we did. The driving was insane at points along the road – super strong winds and covered in ice. Alex maneuvered the speaker system and set up our iPhones with Bluetooth so we could jam out…to Christmas music. Ha. Anywho, check out this drive – we saw some glaciers along the way too: 



Baby volcano.


Glaciers we are going to be climbing Saturday.         

My new friend with four legs. 

This view from our guesthouse tonight is beautiful. Like everything else. Even if we did drive past the street three times. 


Iceland Day Four; Not Lost in Iceland

30 March 2015

The alarm went off and we hit snooze. 6:30 felt too early, so we decided 7:30 would feel better. It did. After breakfast we said goodbye to Ingi, our Igdlo host who was beyond hospitable. The car rental facility picked us up and we got our wheels for the week.


 I’m very purple today. Bye, Reykavik!


We hit the road toward PING PARK and got lost in the frozen tundra… but not really. It was breath taking – reminded me of a road trip I took out in the Western US with my grandfather and his older brother when I was in high school. Alex and I were warned about the winds on Golden Circle road but only realized just what everyone meant when we made our first stop. 


The map nearly flew out the window. We drove in a bit further and found a beautiful lake. Of course, my immediate reaction was how I wanted to jump in. Then I got out of the car. Brr!!!




As we continued down the road through the park to the town of Geysir to see one of the largest natural geysers in the world, we had the parking karma gods in our favor (this a very busy site), we rushed out of the car to catch a glimpse. Wow! How neat. Alex has seen geysers before and being that she is a earth science teacher, she taught me about the pressure build up under the very thin crust. A handy travel companion in a place like this :) 



I have some awesome photos on my camera of this, but since I’m doing this blog 100% from my phone you’ll have to know me to see those back home. You need to see this. All of you! You must see Iceland. 

We followed the one main road and a whole bunch of roundabouts to a small town called Hella where we are staying for the night – we splurged, $40 each for a hotel instead of a hostel. Man oh man was this worth it! Stracta Hotel is insanely fresh. That’s a good thing. It opened last summer so everything still feels new and smells of fresh wood (again, it’s a good thing). We ate a quick snack of cheese and crackers then headed in to their hot tub and sauna for the evening. 



Check out our view from this place, just a few volcanoes. One ready to erupt any day now. No big deal. 



Oh, and our room number matched my swim cap I packed. Meant to be. 


Alex had a yummy fish soup for dinner (her second fish of the day) made with fish caught across the street. I had a bar and a gerber sweet  potato squeeze. Well balanced meals, ha. The wonderful woman who works here gave us a little treat sampler. Wish we knew her name but when Alex asked she said its a typical Icelandic name that’s too hard to pronounce. 


Hot tub again now, then bed. Early up to explore the icebergs! :)