31 things to do before I’m 32

Ofia 31 things

Ofia is thrilled for this year’s goal list!

It’s my favorite time of year!  That month where I get to cumulate all of the exciting adventures that I have always wanted to do and create a goal list to do before my next birthday. Last year for my 30 things to do before 31, I was able to get a lot done, but was more lackluster than usual about actually posting.  It was not out of apathy, but more out of the (joyful) fact that I did not have the time. I was too busy enjoying life and whatever adventures it led me on, to stop and write it down.  This year, I did the responsibility thing any list maker would do in this situation, and I put this blog as a focus on my goal list for this year.  Enjoy!

31 things to do before I’m 32

  1. Get strong
  2. Sleep above ground
  3. Climb outside
  4. Go off the grid
  5. See an icon live
  6. Learn self defense
  7. Make GoPro videos
  8. “Adult” as a verb
  9. Volunteer regularly
  10. Learn a new language fluently
  11. Backpack in Canada
  12. Build something with my hands
  13. Do something crazy for love
  14. Fall asleep beside the ocean
  15. Can jam
  16. Ice skate on a lake
  17. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
  18. Read all of the my books, then promptly give them away
  19. Under 100 wardrobe
  20. Backpack with a cat
  21. Beat Legendary Wings on NES
  22. Needles and Thread daily
  23. Adho Mukha Svanasana
  24. Enter 5 art exhibitions
  25. Mother-Daughter tattoo (it’s happening Mom)
  26. Skydive
  27. Go fishing
  28. Camp as often as possible
  29. Say “Yes” for an entire month
  30. Be a better writer
  31. Continue journey of minimalism

 

 

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Throw a Dart at a Map and Go…

I wanted to get lost.  I wanted no set plans.  I wanted freedom to change direction on the whim or stop at any unique roadside attraction.  I wanted to relax, have fun, explore, and do it all with the great company of A.  So naturally, we threw darts at a map as one of my 30 Things to do Before 31.

Darts on a Map

A few things to consider when planning, or not planning, a road trip based on the luck of a dart:

  1. This is not for control freaks
  2. Choose your partner(s) very wisely
  3. Pack for all types of weather and adventures, indoor or outdoor
  4. Bring along some water and snacks as you never know how long of a stretch you’ll go before seeing a gas station

Only having five days, we needed someplace within a days drive, so we printed out and created our own map that consisted of CO, WY, UT, AZ, and NM.  We agreed to throw three darts in the event that two land in Denver or the surrounding areas.  Then…we threw.  First dart landed in the Bridger-Teton National Forest just outside of Grand Tetons National Park!  Awesome first throw.  Second dart landed in Grand Junction, CO…ehh not much there.  And the third dart landed smack dab in the middle of Canyonlands National Park.  Overall, a lucky success.

Nibling transfixed by fire

Nibling transfixed by fire

Now we had to decide between heading north to the mountains, or passing through the Western Slopes and into Utah.  We decided to knock out two darts with one trip and jumped in the car to Utah.  There was one catch to this trip, we were already planning on camping along the Poudre River in Northern Colorado so it made sense from there to drive a large loop to Canyonlands, back through Grand Junction, and home.

 

#wokeuplikethis at Dinosaur National Monument

#wokeuplikethis at Dinosaur National Monument

Day/Night 1:  Camped with my brother, sister-in-law, and adorable nibling along the Poudre River.  Gorgeous landscape with Elephant Mountain in front of us, great company, good conversation, and delicious food.  What better way to start a road trip?

Day/Night 2: Headed West into Utah and stopped in Jensen to check out Dinosaur National Monument.  Our nerdy selves came out as we learned about the various dinosaurs that roamed our country including the Allosaurus (T-Rex), Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus), and my favorite, the Stegosaurus.

Swimming in Colorado RiverDay/Night 3: Made it into Moab where we hiked through a labyrinth of rock formations, touched dinosaur tracks, and lazed in the Colorado River – a natural swimming hole! That night we couched surfed with a friend in Moab after unwinding at Moab Brewery.

Day/Night 4 & 5: Fell in love on Gemini Bridges and explored the steep dirt roads and red trails of Canyonlands National Park…more to come

On our way home, we did swing through Grand Junction, CO for dinner.  Everything else was closed, so we headed back home to Denver.

I will leave you with a picture of my newest favorite place…

Gemini Bridges

Gemini Bridges

Caught in a Rainstorm…

From the inside looking out

From the inside looking out

While walking with Ellie through my neighborhood, we were caught in a rainstorm. The skies were overcast and forecasted some fog and maybe a light drizzle. We were not prepared for what we got caught in, with me in some loose pants, a tank top and Ellie just freshly groomed.  This moment happened out of nowhere, and yet seemed so intentional.  Being caught unexpectedly in a rainstorm was on my list this year of 30 Things to do Before 31. How perfectly serendipitous.

So, I did what any rational human would do when caught in a complete downpour.  I just let life happen.  I stopped and focused on all of the feels.

I wanted to experience and be mindful of all that was happening. To listen to the sound of the rain pour down around me, hitting the garbage cans I stood near, the water crash against the leaves on the trees overhead, and the puddles that were quickly forming beneath.  To feel the water slide down my face and soak through my clothes. To feel the weight of my clothing get heavier with each additional second. To feel my hair slowly get plastered to my face and drip on my shoulders. To feel my socks get soaked through my shoes.  To watch Ellie attempt to shake off the water from her coat, only to be disgruntled with more water pelting her.  To capture the moment in its entirety.

That is what I experienced in that rainstorm.  Then something interesting happened, I realized that once you are already soaked that the feeling is, nice. I was able to walk, or run, or stomp through any puddle I desired. I could take my time and smile to the others who were running for shelter or frantically scrambling for any sort of cover.  I could appreciate this secret moment I was sharing with my dog.  Since it was raining, there was no way for me to capture it on camera or worry about any outside influence.  I was disconnected.  I was only present on this street in my neighborhood in the rain.

I was not in a hurry to get home.  I was not in a hurry for anything in that moment. I felt young and free.  This was mindfulness.  I was blissfully happy. 

Leaf peeping in Crested Butte…

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Crested Butte, CO

I have now lived in Colorado for almost three years and I still had not managed to get up to the mountains when the colors are changing and all of the Aspen are vivid golden. This year I planned accordingly, did some research, and timed the weekend perfectly.  I grabbed the dog and my dude for an adventure out towards the Western Slope.  We were headed to Crested Butte, Colorado for a lovely weekend of leaf peeping at the end of September.

Colorado Cider Company's Glider Cider

Colorado Cider Company’s Glider Cider

Crested Butte was a days drive from Denver, but well worth it.  We camped out on Irwin Lake, drove along Kebler Pass at roughly 10,000 feet in elevation, did some hiking in beautiful landscapes, quietly observed a few vast open meadows, stood in awe beneath the bright yellow Aspen trees, drank some local Colorado Cider Company’s hard cider by a campfire, and snuggled under the stars lit by the Harvest Moon.  

Harvest Moon over the lake

Of course, all of these activities were splendid in their own right, but the main purpose to camp out in the mountains was to go leaf peeping and experience the seasonal color change at its peak time, as part of my 30 Things to do Before 31 list.

Standing beneath Aspen and overlooking larger Aspen groves, I could not help but be enraptured by the rustling of the small oval leaves.  The sound may not have been exceedingly loud, but it was a uniquely soft sound like paper fluttering in the wind.  Stepping back and looking out at an entire grove, it is baffling to think that all of the trees are linked to just one (ancestor) tree that has spread its seedling to create an entire grove.  Aspen are alike my favorite tree, Willow, in this way as well as in the way that they grow small catkins, or flowers, and shed their leaves with the season changes.

Beneath theses golden giants

Beneath theses golden giants

What I was not prepared for, was how alike Aspen were to giant Sequoia that I grew up under.  Looking up, one is easily reminded of how small they are with these trees standing 49-98 feet tall.  Needles to say, I was overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia and peace being amongst these breathtaking wonders.   

Our last day in Crested Butte, we headed into town and meandered around the Farmer’s Market.  We picked up some locally brewed pumpkin ale and giant oyster mushrooms for some roasting at home.  I would say the timing could not have been more perfect for the season change and look forward to returning next fall. 

Why October is the best month…

Hello October

As part of my #bepresent October Photo Challenge, I am experiencing the next 31 days with a deeper focus and appreciation.  October is my favorite month for so many reasons, including the special holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries that occur. In general terms, there are 13 things I love about October:

1. Weather

The night air cools down to a crisp breezy temperature that creates the ultimate snuggling atmosphere, during the daytime hours it is not too hot and not yet too cold which inspires everywhere to bring out the sweaters, boots, and vests from their closets.  

2. Leaves

Not only do the leaves turn into brilliant colors, but then they fall to the ground and leave behind a blanket of crunchy sunsets beneath your feet.

3. Pumpkins

Pumpkins are everywhere at pumpkin patches, on front stoops, in lattes, in beer, and best of all pie! 

4. Haunted Houses

It is not only socially acceptable to play dress-up as a monster and act out in a haunted house, but it is also socially acceptable to talk yourself through the terror that is lurking behind the next corner, or wall, or field while creeping through one. Of course, all the while holding the arm or hand of the person beside you.

5. Apples

Apples come in the form of apple butter, apple pie, scented candles, and even candy apples.  This is a great time for apple picking and canning. Apples are also the symbol to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

6. Scary Movies

Cuddle up on the couch, grab some pumpkin beer, pull on some cozy knitted socks, and endure the terror of choosing to scare yourself. 

7. Zombies

Not only does The Walking Dead return to TV, but this is the time to experiment with makeup like you’ve always wanted to and join the community of zombies.  Check out your city’s informational page for a Zombie Crawl near you.

8. MLB World Series

The last month {sigh} of baseball before football season is in full swing.  MLB World Series is always enjoyable, even when your team next makes it.

9. Colors

Who doesn’t love a good sunrise or sunset? Nobody.  Therefore who wouldn’t enjoy seeing the colors or a sunset all month long in the sky, on the ground, in the trees?

10. Disguised Animals

A dog disguised as a bumble bee? A cat disguised as a devil? Well, I guess that one isn’t quite a disguise.  None the less, any animals in costume is good a smile or giggle.

11. Playing Dress-Up

It is the one time it is socially acceptable to dress up as whatever you want in the most outlandish costumes you can imagine. 

12. Candy

It is everywhere. 

13. All Hallows’ Eve

 However you celebrate it, it is a majestical time when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead become blurred and the ghosts of the dead return to earth.  It can be a time of remembrance, of celebration, or simply just good of trick-or-treat fun!

October: Be present with a photo a day…

#bepresentSeptember’s almost over, and Fall is officially here!  After enjoying the Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse this week, I am inspired to embark on another Photo Challenge.  This challenge will be throughout the month of October and will be celebrating all things Fall and all things October. It is only fitting, as October is my favorite month{more to come on this topic} and so many good feels occur during those 31 days.

Unlike most Photo Challenges, I will not be making a list of various photos that I want to capture. Instead, I am going to focus on being in the present and capture whatever moves me each day.  To be in the present, means to slow down and focus on what is happening in that precise moment without thinking of the past nor daydreaming of what will come.  It is to focus on the emotions, the sounds, the smells, the tastes, the weather or landscape, and really feeling all of the senses in their entirety.  By making a list of photo ideas, I would be creating a preconceived set of photos that I would be aspiring to capture throughout the month.  That is the exact opposite of what I want to accomplish.

I am looking to do one thing this month, to fully experience October.  This Photo Challenge will be in conjunction with my Being in the Present, both of which are on my list of 30 Things to do Before I’m 31.  Join me on instagram using hashtag #bepresent or just follow along!

30 Things to Do Before I’m 31…

30 Things

Turning 30 was not life changing.  Turning 30 did not make me feel older or wiser or grown up.  Turning 30 was the closing of a chapter in my life only to open the next.  The last year of my twenties taught me so much about myself, how strong I am, what I value, what I want to become, and most importantly how life can change in the blink of an eye.  It taught me forgiveness, and how to let go of an idea or plan for what was and to instead accept the unknown.  It showed me that the past is gone, the future is unknown, but the present is what I make of it.  Turning 30 is my chance of a new beginning and I know it will be the best year yet.

30 Things to Do Before I turn 31:

  1. Yell at the top of a mountain
  2. Photograph a Great Migration
  3. Live in the present
  4. Feel the wind of a train on my face at midnight
  5. Solve a murder-mystery dinner
  6. Get caught in a rain storm
  7. Learn a new sport
  8. Swim in a natural swimming hole
  9. Have a Girls’ Getaway
  10. Travel more with Ellie
  11. Write more poetry
  12. Disconnect
  13. Stay up all night watching b+w films
  14. Hear the Dalai Lama speak
  15. Go on a blind date
  16. See a sunset in Santa Fe
  17. Do a Color Run
  18. Visit a Planetarium
  19. Throw a dart at a map and go
  20. Make the perfect latte in the backcountry
  21. Surprise someone
  22. Go to a water park
  23. Complete a photo challenge
  24. Attend a concert/show of someone I have never heard of
  25. 3 new stamps in my National Parks Passport
  26. Visit as many breweries as possible
  27. Sit in a hot spring in the dead of winter
  28. Experience the color change in an Aspen Grove
  29. Continue journey of minimalism
  30. Complete my 29 Things to Do Before 30

100HappyDays…

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Frame1The next 18 days of my 100HappyDays, of my personal Happiness Project, include enjoying some beautiful and deep snow, checking out new places and joining some new book clubs and film clubs, running around, eating the yummy snacks from my latest Graze box from my dear Sister-in-Law, eating more yummy things like breakfast burritos and muffins, writing some letters, checking out Orchids, celebrating Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th Anniversary, and doodling.  Happiness is in the little things, the minor details in your day of stress, heartbreak, and fatigue.  It is all about being present, today.  Tomorrow is unknown, and yesterday is gone.  

A date with Dracula

Shh...the ballet is about to start

Shh…the ballet is about to start

Imagine a live performance that has no words, no yelling, no singing, no dialogue, just amazing symphonic music and perfectly choreographed dance. A live performance where the audience has the choice to interpret how they want based on the dancing and music. An afternoon to get dressed up, enjoy some wine with a great friend, and get lost in a story. How had I never discovered the ballet?

This year I had the opportunity to attend The Colorado Ballet performance of Dracula. I had only ever seen The Nutcracker performed by The San Francisco Ballet when I was much younger. I do not remember it. As part of the 29 Things to do Before I’m 30 list, I decided that Dracula seemed the perfect story to enjoy.

Dracula itself is a hauntingly sad story. One that I had never read before, which may have made the ballet that much more enjoyable. I did not know what would happen next or how things would end. It gave me reason to use my imagination, which any good performance can do.

The Colorado Ballet performance of Dracula

The Colorado Ballet performance of Dracula

Ballet may be one of my favorite forms of art at this point. I enjoyed everything about it including the costume, the simple stage setup, the incredible music, and the emotions that emerge based on such music. The dancing was really what I got lost in. Each dance captivated me and left me waiting for the next choreographed move. The fluidity that the dancers showed, and the way the costumed flowed was such a beautiful sight. The fast tempo dances with multiple dancers allowed for feelings of happiness, celebration, or agitation. The slower more thoughtful dances between two individuals were ones of watching an intimate exchange that caused feelings of love, struggle, or deep sadness depending upon the music. Some of the most enjoyable dances during Dracula included those of struggle or fighting. Who would have thought that a fight choreographed into dance would be so breathtaking. Such a play on emotions. It was absolutely irresistible. To say the least, I will be attending the ballet much more frequently.

100HappyDays…

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Last year was one of the most difficult years for me, and I want to let 2014 stay where it needs to be, back in 2014.  To keep things in perspective while starting this new year, I am finding something that brings me happiness in every day. (Even if it is just my cat or dog…)  I know there will be sadness and hardships in 2015, but I want to make sure that with each night, I fall asleep thinking about the one positive thing that made me smile that day.

I started the 100HappyDays challenge on December 22nd and here are my first 18 days.  This is my Happiness Project.  This is me choosing the present and living it.  I have already enjoyed good books, great winter weather, kitty snuggles, delicious java, tropical botanic gardens, 4 inches of hair loss, and the birth of my first nephew!  2015 has started off with a lot to be grateful for.

Looking forward to the next 82 days…