Monday, September 19, 2016

Antelope Canyon and Sedona, Arizona... and North Carolina... and Iceland?

2016's been a crazy year. A creative, divine, inspiring, faithful, faith-filled, wild, adventurous year. 

With more unknowns, twists, and turns than I could have ever predicted (and it seems like they just keep coming...), I just felt really compelled today to rest and reflect. To take a little break from planning, and, for the first time in days, from hiking, site-seeing, running, driving, and planning the next stop. 

I'm currently in Flagstaff, Arizona, and today all I've done is be. I've hit some bookshops, walked through town, picnicked in a park, planned nothing, and done none of it with any urgency. It feels good. I'm currently parked at a coffee shop, and have closed every tab on my computer but this one. That feels good too. Life just feels really packed right now- with wonderful things, but packed none the less.
The most beautiful pictures from the trip so far: Lower Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ
Which brings me to some announcements. 

I'm not even done with this roadtrip, but I'm currently making plans for another one: around Iceland. My sister and I are embarking on our first ever adventure abroad together, and we've chosen to travel 4,000 miles away to the wonderful land of Northern Lights, whimsical landscapes, and surreal surroundings. 

Iceland's one of those places that has always seemed wild, remote, and desirable to me; untouchably different from anywhere on earth; awe-inspiring both culturally and geographically. I've thought about going before, so when my sister told me how inexpensive (relatively speaking) flights were in winter, I thought, 'yeah, sure. I'm in.'
Overly-traveled (is there such a thing?), nomadic beyond logic or reason, without a plan in life other than 'love and follow God' and 'make art,' taking this thing completely day-by-day with a wandering and wide-eyed spirit- but in.

And actually, that plan is working fine. I certainly haven't run out of things to do.

Between the end of this trip and the beginning of that one, in November, I have a coloring book being released and launch parties and events to plan for that; designs to create and merchandise to produce for the holiday season; and art shows the weekend before and the weekend after Iceland.

And then I guess after all that, I'll start planning my next move: to North Carolina. I'm moving to Asheville early next year. 
Why? Creative energy, simpler living, and new mountains. To stay in the flow of change, play, simplicity, letting go, and wonder that I have discovered life to be all about. To continue living the why not?

I feel like I haven't made a decision in 2016 that hasn't involved me following the wild and crazy callings of my soul to, literally, God-knows where. And who. And how. 

But it's all just kind of working, flowing; not always known at the time, but always unfolding in great ways- and sometimes overflowing with more than I feel like I can handle. 

But abundance is good. Opportunity and provision are good. I guess when we start to realize that we don't need a safe life, and we really choose to give that up- not just physically but in our hearts- we get one that looks more like an adventure. 
That's how 2016 started off: with a jump into the unknown. The only consistency with which I quit my job, packed up my art, and headed to the mountains was faith: trust that God would lead me where I needed, and where He wanted (and, it turns out, where I wanted). 

So that's a little debriefing for those following along with my creative story as to what's up, and where I am and where I'll be.

This current trip has been a good learning experience for me about the balancing act between rest and movement, stillness and action, stopping and going. Being present and planning the future. I've learned that some planning is important: it's intentional and responsible, and it also helps us optimize our time. 
A road trip (like life), is limited: there's only so much space to fit in so many things, and if we want to be efficient, we have to work smarter, not harder. There has to be an awareness of how the present moment is inherently connected to the ones that follow it: so we don't have to be overly 'concerned' with where life is taking us, just attuned and aware to the here-and-now to handle it well and let it propel us to the next thing.

It's more about rest and peace than effort or forcing. You grab opportunities as they come to you, then go from there. And (I've been learning for the past few years) you don't overthink: you sort of more trust, and feel, and trust some more. 

So that's that, in terms of what's next. As for where I've been most recently, the above shots are of course from beautiful Antelope Canyon, near Page in northern Arizona.

This state has impressed me a lot with its many and varied places and features: the beautiful slot canyons above where just stunning, but a drive a few hours south to Sedona brought a beauty of its own, with abundant red rocks and perfectly hot hiking weather. 

In Sedona I hiked the Courthouse Butte trail from Cathedral Rock Trailhead, an almost 5 mile easy hike that took me by the iconic Bell Rock. I also paid a visit to the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross in the morning before I headed out.

Courthouse Butte from the trail 
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona
In the afternoon, after a rest from Red Rock hiking, I headed to West Fork Trail in Coconino National Forest, which provided a totally different hiking experience. It was even reminiscent to me of the heavily wooded forests and running creeks of my home state of Illinois: lots of trees, running water, and comfortable shade. 

It was about 6 miles round trip and pretty heavily trafficked, but beautiful. The trail crossed back and forth over (and through) the stream that ran through it; several times I stopped just to take my shoes off, relax, and wade through the water. 

West Fork Trail, Coconino National Forest

For the past two days, I've been in Gilbert, Arizona, visiting with Joyce (my companion with whom I did Utah's Mighty Five) for some relaxation, refueling and restocking (you don't realize how awesome Costco is until you go without it for several months), and some desert hiking- and much-appreciated time in a pool, given the 100+ degree temperatures. 

In Gilbert I also did some hiking and trail running in San Tan Mountain Regional Park, and this morning left for Flagstaff. Tomorrow it's on the Grand Canyon, and then back to Colorado for a bit before heading home to Illinois.
Trail running in San Tan Mountain Regional Park
Canyon Lake in Tortilla Flat, Arizona 

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