Sunday, May 26, 2013

Barbour Pockets

It's no surprise from my last few blog posts that I'm slightly obsessed with my Barbour jacket. I wear it just about everywhere - to work, the mountains, on hikes, while traveling. 

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I can't remember how or why I knew I wanted one - people don't wear them much here in Colorado since technical fabric seems to be the preferred water resistant fabric, but I knew that I wanted to be both stylish and functional in the back country and mountains, especially when weight isn't an issue (like during long backcountry adventures when every ounce matters). I was also attracted to the idea that people who have Barbour coats wear them forever. If there's one mantra I live by it's buy once and use forever. A Barbour coat was just the ticket - warm, waterproof, sturdy, stylish, with lots of options like a hood or a liner for different adventures. 

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I saved up my clothing money, purchased a jacket directly from the UK via Skype, and as it turned out we've had an usually wet spring so I've worn my Barbour coat more than I had anticipated. In addition to that it's been a layer under my sleeping bag in the Utah desert, it's protected me from the spring showers while shuttling my students to their cars after school, it's gone on numerous adventures to the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and it's huge pockets have been purse, tote, and hand warmers based on what I've needed that day. 

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So...what's floating around in the giant pockets of my classic Beadnell? It looks almost like an homage to the southwest and to-do list made out of objects all rolled into one:

- A tiny book of poetry published by Centennial Press. I had intended to share a poem with a friend. 
- Several pens and neon sharpies used to write thank you notes for my parent volunteers. 
- A vintage silver and turquoise Native American bracelet picked up on my last trip to Moab, taken off so I could take notes on something. 
- A letter with an overdue reply owed to a dear friend.
- A rock picked up on my last hike with my family in Rocky Mountain National Park. Yes, that one where I fell through the snowpack into the meltwater below! Brr!
- My wallet and keys


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Graduation!

Well, friends, I did it!

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I finally managed to graduate with my master's degree! I feel like I've let this blog go to the wayside while I finished up both my second year of teaching and the coursework and paper writing required to finish up. 

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My parents flew out for graduation, my husband and I both took a full day off of work, and my brother drove up to see it straight after work. It was truly a wonderful day and a great endpoint to this chapter of my academic career. 

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This time graduating was not a big scary cliff I was pushed over, landing squarely and painfully into the real world - I was already entrenched in it and graduation was a refining process. I improved my teaching practice through reflection, writing, and study. I learned how to better communicate and build relationships with people in my academic program. I learned, most of all, how to write the best ever "Can I get coffee with you and pick your brain" email...and I made it a point to use it and seek out wise people who are walking the paths I would like to walk. 

I think age also has a part in that - the difference between 22 and 28, though only six years between, is staggering. I know who I am now, I've had full time jobs in two career trajectories, I've spent time really contemplating what it is I want and who I want to be. My relationship with my husband has evened out through time and refinement and work. I've moved to Colorado and made a life here.   I'm beginning to dig in, do work, and stick around long enough to see the work come to fruition.   

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Life settles as you get older, and not in the way that everyone here in Colorado is always railing against, that painful token house in the suburbs, a car payment, and all the accessories. Settling doesn't mean you no longer travel or write off the idea of selling everything and backpacking the world if that's what your heart is set on. It doesn't mean you hang up your guitar or platform wedges or never take your bike out except on the weekends. Settling doesn't mean you accept what you've been given as all there is or stop trying to become a better person, or stop learning. 

It is more about coming to terms with who you are as a person. Maybe self acceptance is a good way to define my version of settling. You make peace with the size of your hips and thighs or nose or the way you look in skinny jeans. You begin to cope with the fact that you always will be or never will be a morning person and your best work is done late at night or first thing and you begin to set aside time during that hours for your passion projects. You begin to toss some of the clothes that were purchased in fits of craziness and create a more cohesive wardrobe that makes putting together work outfits a whole lot easier and a lot less time consuming. You learn to say no when you're overbooked and yes when you're excited about a project. You begin to invest your time in long term ideas and projects, no matter where you are in life. 

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And most importantly, you begin to figure out what you want and what you are capable of. And what you are capable of is anything.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finishing Twenty-Seven

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There is a ghost town in the desert. When they put the freeway through it didn't reach to this town so it died when the oil ran out. We take the back roads often through the desert and we know this ghost town well. 

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Near this town there is a field of daises. It had taken me by surprise - we were driving along and all of a sudden we were surrounded by a field of white. I had never seen it in bloom like that so I asked JR to pull over and I hopped out into the field of daises. They were tough little buggers, those desert flowers. I had to pinch them hard with my fingernails to pull them up. 

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We kept going and found a place to pull over and camp in the BLM land, right against the mesas, in a flat spot against the tumbled rocks. In the morning it was cold and a little overcast, and the wind was incredible. I woke up early before everyone else got up and walked a ways down the road, meditating on the last day of my 27th year.  

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Its always hard for me to give up another year for some reason and I get a little melancholy around new years and birthdays. I'm not afraid of aging by any means, but I wonder a lot if I did a good enough job with the year that I'd been given. The desert is a good place to let those thoughts settle.  

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