While most of my 2015 was spent on the road – riding, exploring, cooking – I’ve been pretty solidly stationed in Boulder the past couple of months – something I’m elated about. I’ve been settling in, baking up a storm, collecting my thoughts, gathering my energy and just BEING. This past year was one of monumental challenge, change and reward for me; it was a year that caused me to run at top speed into the unknown, pause and sit with discomfort, to pedal and push to the very edge of all the things that I am and want to be only to peer over at the possibilities that lie beyond, below, and above me. It was a year in which I found myself having my breath taken away in some moments, and holding my breath for far too long in others and so when a dear friend suggested that we get out-of-town and head into the mountains to take some deep breaths, get into the wild, and get away from it all, I saw no other way to finish off the year.
And so away we went, landing in a family cabin perched at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. The cabin belongs to her grandparents, whom were bakers, and square dancers, hosts, good samaritans, completely in love and full-time residents in this special place. Though they’ve passed on (one very shortly after the other), the little house has been kept impeccably, I perceive just as they would have kept it had they been alive today. The coffee mugs are still in waiting on the glass ledges near the sink, the cookie jar is till full, her grandmothers cake decorating colors, tips and cookbooks still in their places. The punch bowl still at the ready to receive guests. This may seem like it would be strange, or eerie, but in this case, it’s actually the most wonderful thing ever; the house has been kept so loved that one is likely to believe that Grandma or Grandpa could come in to any room at any given moment and offer up the opportunity to play cards, tell stories, or teach you a thing or two about wedding cake decorating. The objects in the house carry a lively glow that signifies memories still alive; the sun streams through the forest and into the windows, illuminating a life lived joyfully, eternally.
The cabin proved to be a perfect jumping off point for us to get out and into the park, to hunt frozen lakes, have long catch up conversations about love and life and all the things women talk about when they drink all the wine and intend to just be together. But it also proved to be a perfect counterpoint from which I could consider what this next year will hold, and what it means to really make your life full. So full that it brims over beyond your own lifetime.
I’ve read this great little book lately by Isabella Bird, a 19th century English explorer, writer, photographer and naturalist whom wrote beautiful, bright descriptive letters of her first-doctor-prescribed and then curiosity-driven world travels. She spent a significant amount of time right there where our little cabin was situated back in the 1800’s. As we wandered the snow-packed trails and scampered over the hills and through the woods – just as she had – I couldn’t help but think of her words:
Isabella was describing her majestic surroundings. I had this same realization looking upon the peaks in our most beautiful backyard. But for me, these words resonated more with a state of being, than with a vista or landscape; they relate to an emotion of complete contentment with where one is in the world and as much as jaw-dropping scenery is worth wanting, a life built so beautiful that you can live with it all your life, and beyond, seems even more desirable to me. I imagine this is the life that the grandparents looked back upon as they left this life and moved into another. (Or, at least that’s how I felt upon seeing Grandma’s extensive collection of cake decorating supplies!)
I’m not one to resolve when the New Year arrives, though I do reflect and place intention. I have no way of knowing exactly what 2016 will hold, but I intend to wake up every day and do myself the service of building a life, moment by moment, filled with the things that make me beam, with love for the good people around me, and with passion for the way I move through the world, always keeping my eyes open for vistas that rouse me. This sounds easier than it is, I think, but I’m up to the challenge. Especially since, most of the time, this translates into me heading out for some adventure (big or small) with a backpack full of treats.
I hope that this finds your year shining brightly ahead! Happy New Year! – xo L