These memories are worth everything

I recently bought a hiking log to keep track of the next twenty hikes I go on. I logged my first one last weekend, it was one to remember for sure. I went to Turkey Run State Park with my +1, where we hiked five miles on trails 3 and 5, climb 140+ steps, picnicked on the creek’s edge and underneath a small gorge, then had a grand finale of getting drenching wet from a storm that sneaked upon us. Here are a few questions my hiking logged asked when I was filling it out about our trek.

Duration and distance:

Four hours and five miles.

Gear brought:

Two backpacks, tennis shoes and Chacos, food (lots and lots of food), water, a hammock for which we did not get to hang up in a tree but us as our picnic blanket as we sat down on the sand to eat lunch, first aid, bug spray, sunscreen, rope, backup batteries, masks, hand sanitizer, a change of clothes, and other miscellaneous things.

Trail traffic and style of terrain:

The beginning of the park was fairly populated, but the more you hiked inwards, the fewer people there were, the more you could hear the sounds of nature wafting through your ears. I didn’t take many photos because honestly, the terrain was rough, but in a good way. It was full of dirt, rocks, water, mud, and sand. There was a point where we hiked up a running waterfall. I loved it but didn’t have any intentions of getting my camera wet.

Nature observed:

The natural colors and patterns in the gorge’s rock were stunning. The natural beauty of it all, how it formed from the fingertips of no man. Then the light that made its way through the thick trees and onto the earth’s floor. I only took one polaroid picture of it, but the exposer caught the light in its essence, shinning down, cutting through the darkness.

Hiking snack:

About 3.5 to 4 miles into our hike, we stopped for lunch. My +1 and I picnicked on the creak’s edge and ate an assortment of things, including smoked cheddar cheese, smoked gouda cheese, salami, rice crackers, snap peas with garlic and herb dip, and pistachios. Those were our favorite things out of everything we bought anyway. The cheeses with the salami and rice crackers were the most amazing together, all the flavors thick and rich but a heavenly blend.

Weather encountered:

Although the view of the creek was gorgeous while we were picnicking, it started to lightly rain. Plus, two people in inter-tubs were arguing out on the creek, their voices echoing no matter how fair the water carried them. We packed up our smorgasbord of things and move inwards to the forest of trees, where the echoes dimmed and the leaves were so dense that the rain couldn’t get through. 

Up a hill and underneath a small gorge, we found a rock protruding from the earth to sit on and enjoy our food. Once we started to get unpacked, even deeper storm clouds rolled in, and it started to pour, getting heavier and heavier. We packed up and started on the trail once again. On our way, the heavens parted entirely and we got drenching wet in the process of hiking back to the car. It was almost like a dream. Even though I was worried about lighting, I enjoyed the rain. Ever since February, I haven’t had a full-body experience quite like that, the sensation of getting soaked in a thunderstorm, none the less beside the person I’ve fallen in love with.

We got back to the car, safely and with enough water clinging to us that we had to ring out our clothes and change into the spare, we had (thank goodness we packed another t-shirt, or I would’ve been a prune by the time we got home. We drove the nearly two-hour drive back to his house, not on the interstate, but through the Indiana Country. We finished off our picnic on his couch, sitting in front of the TV watching Friends and enjoying each other’s company.

What’s something you’ll remember the most about this trip?

Have you ever had one of those experiences, where you had one plan but with whatever circumstances that follow, nothing quite happened like the way you thought it would? Instead, you ended up camping out on your home’s floor, eating good food, none the less enjoying each other’s company to the fullest. I’ve realized that is what matters the most, not the atmosphere, the weather, or the scenery; not even if the food was gourmet or not. What matters is that you’re enjoying the sensations of the groceries you picked up from Walmart the day before and sharing the whole experiences with someone you love. Let come what may, plans can get altered or canceled, but the truth of the matter all stays the same, don’t take advantage of this moment that you have right in front of you. You’ll never get one like it again. These memories are worth everything.

When I finished, I felt…

Tired, exhilarated, waterlogged, and ready to do it again.

What gives you hope?

What gives you hope?

January has stretched its days out far and wide. The new year feels like ages ago. None the less, when I look over the last few weeks, I have been been able to find hope in goodness. Here are just a few good things that have graced this month for me: Gloriously painted skies, coffee get-togethers with friends despite busy schedules, late nights baking even when the following morning is an early one, books that hold sacred words, museum visits, a Friday night swing dancing, picking up family who arrived safely from the airport. 

“What gives you hope?” A new friend asked me this over lattes and it’s been hovering in my mind since. I’ve been asking myself, what does give me hope? Growing up is not always a straight line.  What holds our hearts close to truth and joy? What holds us up when everything seems to be drowning around us? What keeps us alive when we are the ones who are drowning? I think every person, at every corner of the world, no matter what they are going through, is deserving of a little hope, even when all is lost. 

For me, the inevitable place where I find hope is Christ. When I look at this world, even though the tragedy (that I am blessed to not be directly affected by currently), I see his figure prints on everything. It gives me hope to live fully, embracing even pain knocks on the door because there is hope in eternity. But regardless of whether or not you are religious, there are many things around to find hope in.

My friend, the same one who to asked me the question, said she “finds hope when people love each other well”. I totally agree with this. It’s uplifting and wholesome when you see people care for each other, to show up for one another when life can just be so busy and demanding of our attention 

My boss told me once, “when something good happens, celebrate. Celebrate well. The good times will help you get through the hard times.” She told me this after a weekend when she celebrated her nephew’s engagement, but while she was also in a period of extreme challenge for her and her family. 

There is also hope to find in creation. In her book, Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle said, “We can either fall apart in terror of chaos or rejoice in the unity of the created universe.” There is so much chaos around us, but looking deeper into the chaos to discover the cosmos, where beauty is, that what makes life worth living. L’Engle says, “but unless we are creators, we are not fully alive.” 

Although each person finds hope in their own way and in their own time, it’s always there, waiting to be found. It is hanging in the air like a star, its hiding around the corner. Keep a lookout for it’s glistening and shimmer. Even among some of the heavy events that have happened within this past month, hope is still there to have and to hold. 

Life is so fragile, so precious. I’m thankful to be here writing this today. I was looking through my camera roll today to ground me in what is good, what is whole. These photos are some of the ones I found. They make me smile and feel grateful for this life. Sunsets are painted in the sky despite whether or not I take the time to look at them, despite what I did or did not do during the day. Just that fact makes me feel my own aliveness and makes me feel grateful for every breath I am taking. Everything is such a gift. 

Let us love each other well, let us celebrate when good times come, let us create cosmos from chaos. 

Where do you find hope? 

August’s Last Note

The last note to August: a collage containing a handful of my favorite photos from the end of summer. August was a full 31 days, brimming with books and soft pretzels at the state fair, warm letters and coffee, a wonderful boyfriend and puppy lovings. August was a month to discover that my closet is half full of clothes from Target and that I have a knack for playing duckpin bowling. August was a month to say yes to taking the scenic route, to devouring pizza after midnight, to meeting up with old friends, and to eating ramen after yoga class. August was a month for remembering the old, and remembering all that we’ve been given while being thankful for it, both in the past and in the now. August was a month that ended with a sigh of relief, followed by a cheer when the Hoosier’s won the first football game of the season.