Category Archives: Stories

My Very First Trail “Run”

 

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About two years ago I decided that I wanted to start running. I was in my mid thirties and office work was keeping me more sedentary than I would have liked. I hated going to the gym, and was not a particularly athletic person, but I did love being outside, so running seemed like a potentially good fit.

My first two years of trying to learn to run were pretty rough. I generally walked most of time and making it a full mile seemed way harder than it should have been. Progress was slow at best and over and over again I gave up, only to try again a few weeks or a few months later. But, this past winter something changed. I started to make it a full mile without stopping and once I hit that mark, my times started improving. I went from being proud of a 13 minute mile to doing 11 minute miles, and then just a few months ago I ran two miles at a 9 1/2 minute pace. Things were looking up!

 

I then decided to sign up for a 5K. My goal was to run the whole route without walking or stopping and to do it at a 13 minute a mile pace. The route ended up being supper hilly and HARD. But, I completed the 5K at a 12 minute a mile pace without needing to stop! I was unbelievably proud of this small accomplishment.

 

Which brings me to today. My partner and I have decided that we want to start trail running and with my new ability to make it further than a block, I finally felt ready to give it a try. So here is my first attempt at trail running! We made it about 6 miles through Forest Park in Portland, OR. Much of the route was in great shape, but parts were supper muddy and slick. We ran and walked and stopped to smell the flowers. It was really more of a meander with some running involved. There was a light, but lovely Northwest rain falling the whole time and we ended our run wet, muddy, and very happy! I was totally exhausted in the end, but I think I may have finally found a way to exercise that I love!

 

 

 

A Walk to North Portland: Poetry, Spring Flowers, and Empty Streets

I always find it interesting how many people will drive long distances to go hiking, but many of those same people won’t walk long distances in their own cities. For me, most of inner Portland can be accessed on foot, and I think that a two, three, four, or even eight mile walk across the city is a wonderful way to spend the day. Of course I love being out in wild natural areas too, but if one never walks from place to place in the urban expanses in which they live, they may never truly know the place they call home.

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As I walked across town on this beautiful late winter day, I was particularly struck by how empty the sidewalks were. There were plenty of cars zooming down the roads, but relatively few people out and about on foot. It’s one of the strange things about walking in a city where so many people drive. I can be out in broad daylight in one of the most idyllic neighborhoods, with gorgeous old houses, and towering trees, and not see another person for blocks at a time. I often wonder where everyone is. How could I be the only one person in this spot at this time when there were millions of people living across the city? Where was everyone? Sometimes I will walk at rush hour and watch as people in cars inch their way down the road, angry and frustrated, while I am the only person walking on the empty, but beautiful and perfectly functional sidewalk. I wonder where they are going that driving seems like such a good option? If they are on a city street instead of the freeway, it can’t be too far. I wonder how many of those people just don’t know that walking is an option and one that would make their lives so much less painful.

 

Along my walk, I came across so many curious and beautiful things; friendly neighborhood cats, six poetry stations, colorful murals, endless yard signs, and beautifully landscaped gardens with abundant and fragrant, early spring flowers. I wandered around without any set route and discovered streets and places I had never been before. The whole walk was about four miles and took me a little over an hour. A perfect way to spend the afternoon, with lots of time to think, reflect, and wonder about the world around me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perpetual Vagabond is Back!

Hello Dear Readers!

I began this blog in May of 2011, while reading Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, a book about discovering or recovering our creativity. At that time, I was not only unaware of that fact that creativity was something I had lost, but I also came to understand how that loss was impacting my life. Creativity is not something we do, it is how we express ourselves, how we come to understand who we are, and ultimately how we make meaning in the world. Without an outlet for meaning-making, humans can find themselves feeling empty, hopeless, and without purpose; in May of 2011, this was how I felt. Stumbling upon this book about recovering something so fundamental to existence, and yet I hadn’t realized was missing, completely changed my life. Inspired to overcome my fear of failure, rejection, and self-doubt, I crafted my first blog post and put it out for all to see. Of course at the time few people were there to hear my words, but the simple act of hitting “publish” on something that was personal, vulnerable, and of my own making, was liberating. I started slow, with a few poems and some photos. I was searching for my voice and what it was that I hoped to say to the world. Eventually, I decided to start travelling and used this blog to share my experiences. I embraced my namesake and found my voice as a vagabond. However, constant travel was limiting in its own way, and in that process I found that being a vagabond is more a state of mind; a way of approaching the world with curiosity and wonder. I now tend to wander about through my neighborhood and local parks, all the while exploring the world through my senses and trying to understand what my surroundings have to teach me.

My goal in the coming months and years, is to repurpose this blog with an eye towards depth, emotion, and embodied explorations. For many years I have shared my various adventures, but I have paid less attention to the more meaningful aspects of each journey. I have shown beautiful pictures, but rarely offered deep wonderings or insights. While I may have started my creative journey seven years ago, I have really only scratched the surface of what’s possible. If I am to truly live a creative, meaningful life, I must now start to peel away the layers of superficiality and begin to explore in more thoughtful and purposeful ways. I know this won’t be particularly easy, but I hope that it’s worthwhile. I would like to thank each of you that have followed me over the years and I look forward to your continued feedback and support.

With love,

The Perpetual Vagabond

Long Walk

 

 

Grief, Love, and Remembrance

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A few days ago I found myself standing in front of the memorial for the victims of the racist, violent attack that happened last week on a MAX train in Portland. I stood there and cried, while other people did the same. Portland has always been my home, but standing there made me feel like I was somewhere else, in a place I didn’t know, even though I knew in my heart that it is very much this place, that led to this attack happening. This made it all the more painful. We have not done enough. I have not done enough. This incident has put a spotlight on the legacy of colonialism, racism, and white supremacy that is alive and well in our community and in our country. As long as hateful people can see their views reflected and held up in our society, these acts will continue. We must do more. I must do more. But, too many people claim to have the answers; claim to know the one righteous path forward. There is a general lack of humility and refusal to listen, that is pervasive is the current dialogue. Our community feels like it is both coming together and breaking apart all at once. But, I believe that there are no simple answers and I rarely trust those who claim to have them. Humans are more complicated than that. We live in both a causal condition, while also constantly striving towards free-will. Until we can recognize both the causality of our lives and our personal responsibility to act morally and ethically, we will continue to spin in circles of violence and extremism; of righteous self-indignation that leads to discord and the disintegration of compassion for others. We must start using love and empathy as verbs, not slogans. We must start listening, start seeking to understand that which makes us uncomfortable, and working to actively dismantle oppressive systems and ways of thinking that are woven into our culture. I am heartbroken that this happened and I grieve for the families who lost loved ones and those who were traumatized by this act of terror in our community. But, I will also continue to have hope knowing that most people are good people and that together we can work to make this world a better place for all.

 

What is Portland? A Poem

I wrote this poem in response to a prompt on the Blog, Mismanaging Perceptions, which can also be found on the following link:

http://www.mismanagingperception.com/what-is-portland-response-1/What is Portland? 

What is Portland? A Poem.

Portland is cherry blossoms during a warm snap in February

That brings everyone out of their homes

To revel in what is quickly described as an “unseasonal event”

Even though it happens every year

 —–

Portland is a love of place but with a disconnect to now

A desire to occupy the charm of a slower, more intentional time

While finding itself being on the cutting edge

A city of people motivated to make a better future

Although sometimes in image only

 ——-

Portland is a town built on industry and exploitation

That forgets its past as it becomes a town of “new ideas”

Today, people see the glamour in a city that found its place

By pushing out those who once knew it as home

 ——–

Portland is long rainy winters and the best summers on the planet

A city of bridges, a city of roses

Of coffee, of beer, of bikes and of farmers markets

It has some of the best public transportation in the country

But, it mostly serves those who need it the least

 ——–

Portland is and has always been unique, but not always for sale

It’s soul becoming more transparent as it becomes a thing not a place

What makes it beautiful still exists, but only for some

Much of the “livability” disappearing

——

Portland is not a doughnut shop or an image

It is not the businesses that sell us our city back to us

It is not even a movement or a style

 ——-

Portland is the smell in the air after it rains

And people getting excited about “snow”

It’s the way the sun hangs on the horizon in winter

And it’s people who look each other in the eye when they pass

 ——-

Portland is a city divided, although you only know that

If you live on the “other” side

Where walking becomes a liability and you feel

That you are somehow forgotten anytime “Portland” is discussed

 ——-

Portland is beautiful, colorful, and full of life

Portland is my home

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Happy New Year to All!

I would like to wish everyone out there a very Happy New Year as we enter 2014! This past year has truly been one of the most amazing of my life thus far and I have enjoyed sharing my photography, poetry, stories and travel adventures with all of you who are following my blog! Thank you to each and every one of you who has taken the time to visit my page and follow my work, I wish you all the best in the year to come!

Cheers,

The Perpetual Vagabond, (AKA-Lauriel~Arwen)

Two Years!

Hello everyone!

Today I am celebrating my 2 year anniversary of this blog! Because of this milestone, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about what blogging has meant to me and some of the many changes I have experienced as a result.

Two years ago when I made my first post (https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2011/05/31/today-2/), I was terrified at the idea that people might <gasp> actually look at my work and that for the first time ever I would be exposing myself to both criticism and praise (which were equally difficult for me to hear). At first I just posted here and there, when I felt like it, as I was crawling out of a dark depression and creative stagnation that had lasted for many years. I was not confident in my work, but I did enjoy having somewhere to put it that I could at least reflect upon from time to time. Up until that first post 2 years ago I had not shared my work with anyone in years and this was my attempt at trying to be daring and maybe spark new creativity in my life.

And the amazing thing is that it worked. Less than a year later I began taking photos at Occupy Portland protests and had my photography featured in a number of local and national publications.

some of my photos from that time can be found here:

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/05/03/may-day-in-photos-portland-or-2012/

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/03/12/shadows-of-the-resistance/

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Also during the spring of 2012 I decided that I would travel to South Korea and Japan and try my hand at travel photography. During that trip my photo essay on Kyushu Island, Japan was featured on Freshly Pressed and suddenly I had an audience that I never expected. In just a few days I received over 10,000 views and hundreds of comments.

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/04/12/photo-essay-kyushu-island-japan/

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This “success” just made me want to work harder and made me feel like there were actually people out there that were interested in what I was doing. So, I kept at it.

I traveled to Spain in August of 2012 to walk the Camino de Santiago and had a life changing experience. I was able to blog about my trip while on the trail (although I’m not sure that the weight of my camera and iPad were worth it, next time I will blog when I get back!).

Many entries from my time on The Camino can be found here:        https://theperpetualvagabond.com/?s=Camino

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Then in the fall of 2012 I was Freshly Pressed again for an essay I wrote on this journey I have been on to reclaim my life and creativity called: The Swifts, Conflict, Decision Making and Following my Dreams. This one, though, was a bit more difficult for me to see end up so public, as it was extremely personal and I wasn’t really sure I wanted too many people to see it…I guess putting it on my blog was risky, but I never thought it would end up getting so much attention. But, there it was and the response I got was incredible. So many people let me know that the essay touched them personally and made a difference in their lives. I felt so honored to have people I have never met feel impacted by my words.

https://theperpetualvagabond.com/2012/09/18/the-swifts-conflict-decision-making-and-following-my-dreams/

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Also over these past 2 years I have found inspiration as a photographer in my home and around the Pacific Northwest, which I had often overlooked before, but now brings me more joy and beauty than I have known anywhere else in the world.

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Which brings be to today. Two years later. I’m happy, inspired, excited about the future and in love with life. I’m not sure that I would be where I am today with these many adventures and personal breakthroughs behind me if it hadn’t been for blogging and my commitment to taking a risk and sharing myself with the world.

So, thank you to each of you that has followed my journey, my photography and my work. Without your support I’m not sure where I would have ended up. I am eternally grateful!

On a personal note, I got married last weekend to the love of my life (which two years ago I would have never imagined was ever possible!). We eloped and took our own photos of the ceremony. Here is one of them:

Lauriel and August

I’m not sure where there next two years will take me, but I can only hope that they will be anywhere near as amazing as the last two. One thing is for sure though, I will continue to share my photography and my words on this blog and I hope to continue to inspire others to find their own creative voice, whatever that may be!

Cheers!

~The Perpetual Vagabond

(AKA Lauriel~Arwen)