Life

Christmas Ideas for the Hiker in Your Life

I've started Christmas shopping and am about halfway done with my list. Planned gift giving isn't my love language, it stresses me out, but if you're looking for a few gift ideas to get the hiker in your life, check out the items below! I have or want most of them!

Life on Social Media

I once posted a picture of a hike I'd gone on to my personal Instagram and Facebook page. It was a good hike. Fun. But life at that point hadn't been all that I thought it would be. It had been exceedingly hard. A lot of things had fallen apart. Even the things I hadn't wanted to do but was doing anyways hadn't ended up working out.

The night I posted the picture on Instagram I was crying in bed. And my cousin posted on that photo "You really know how to enjoy life!"

Oh yes, I did. I was in bed at 8:30 p.m., crying about a lot of overwhelming things. If she could have seen me then, she wouldn't have said that I had been enjoying life. She would have given me a hug and tea. I hadn't even been enjoying it that much when I posted it earlier in the day. It was just a cool picture and I wanted to share it.

And honestly I hadn't been enjoying it for the first hour and a half of the drive and hike. I had been quiet and sad. Only getting a little happy when we got out of the woods and into the sun. Then the interesting sites and mountains cheered me up a little.

But social media portrays a false side of life. I can be happy on social media. I can only show the good parts of my life. The interesting parts. The enviable ones. But I don't show the tissues in my car. The running mascara. The donut for breakfast. The stress.

So while I try to enjoy life, there are days that I don't. And I, and others, need to remember that everything we see on social media isn't true. And it's not a competition.

So try to enjoy life, but don't take social media at face value.

Refreshing Yourself

Northwest Pearls: Refreshing Yourself
Northwest Pearls: Refreshing Yourself

It has been a long year. I'd been overwhelmed for a long time now. Honestly the only thing that kept me from completely breaking was my faith. But there are other things that I'd like to share that help me feel a little better in the midst of the storm. Maybe they'll help you figure out what you need to recharge.

  • Alone time. This doesn't always work, sometimes I need people, but more than I've ever needed in my life, I've needed alone time to think and to process and to pray.
  • Time outdoors. This one doesn't always work either sadly. There are hikes where I just want to sit down and quit. But more and more I'm enjoying hiking like I used to.
  • Time with friends. For me this can't just be with any friend. It has to either be with a friend with no idea what's gone on in my life, or with one close enough that if I'm not talkative, they don't mind.
  • Time reading the Bible. There is so much that's comforting in the Bible. You can read about God's love and faithfulness or about others' pain and suffering and see that you're not alone and that God was with them. I'm so grateful for it. You have no idea how many verses I've highlighted and how much I've read my Bible in the last few months. I've read through Job, been encouraged by Paul's conversion, and been comforted through the Psalms.
  • Time praying. This doesn't always help, frequently it's me crying out to God for relief or patience, but it's nice to know that God is listening. Even if I feel like the world has caved in around me, he's there and he cares.

Things are better; life doesn't always go according to plan but you adjust and you move on. All of this has made my faith that much stronger and has made me a stronger person.

What do you like to do to keep yourself refreshed?

No Microwave, No Problem

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When I moved to my most recent rental, it came furnished. But didn't have a microwave. The house was old, over 100 years old, and while the owner assured me that it could handle a microwave, I wasn't so sure based on none of the outlets working with my fast charger. Between that doubt and me being too busy to read reviews for microwaves online, I never got around to getting one. The previous two and a half weeks I'd been petsitting for a friend who didn't have one and I'd gotten used to it. I just had to heat thing up on the stove, in the oven, or not at all.

So living without one actually wasn't a huge adjustment.

The biggest adjustment was waking up early enough to heat up the oven to heat up my breakfast burritos. I'd been doing that while petsitting, but his oven worked. The one at my house? It stayed on once every fifteen times you turned it on. I wish that was an exaggeration but it's not. There were days it just wouldn't stay on, no matter how many times I started it. So I just ate something else for breakfast.

But I heated up soup on the stove, milk for hot chocolate on the stove, leftover thai on the stove... And it all worked pretty well! There were a few things I chose to eat cold, but they weren't bad cold, they were just meant to be hot.

Overall it wasn't a huge adjustment to live without a microwave. I didn't think I could do it, but it was pretty easy. I understand that not everyone has the time or the budget to do it, the fact that I had the time to wait for the oven to heat up and for it to heat my food says a lot. And honestly, environmentally-wise, and utility-wise it may not have been better to use the oven than the microwave. Someone else might be able to figure that out; it'd be interesting to see what difference is.

And finally, adjusting to living without a microwave makes me think I could adjust easier than I think to other lifestyle changes. Like a smaller house or less stuff. 

Has there been anything you've adjusted to living without?

Creative Birthday Card

Northwest Pearls: Birthday Card Map
Northwest Pearls: Birthday Card Map

I've seen greeting cards sold at REI before, but when I went to one REI location to buy one for a friend's birthday, they didn't have them. I'd been pretty set on these cards so I was disappointed when they weren't there. But a sales associate came up with the idea to use a map as a birthday card. It was the perfect idea and she came up with it on the spot.

The only problem was that I wasn't sure what maps he already had.

That problem almost made me give up but then I came across some thin flat paper maps and one covered a place we had gone snowshoeing. It's not the most useful map as I doubt he'll go back for a long time, and it covers such a small area, but it has sentimental meaning.

So I got it, folded it, and wrote "Happy Birthday!" along the front. That's all I fit on there, I didn't want to write more because of the map details, but I printed out a picture of him and his dog to write an actual birthday note on.

I loved how the map-card turned out, and in the future, I might even write a whole message on the map itself.

Do you have any creative card ideas?

 

The 10, no, 11 Essentials for Hiking

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I went to a talk by a Search and Rescue organization leader and he talked about what ten 10 essentials you should carry on you no matter the hike. Here's what he said the ten (plus one) essentials are:

  1. Navigation: A map and compass
  2. Sun Protection: Sunglasses and sunscreen
  3. Extra clothing
  4. Headlamp
  5. First aid kit
  6. Fire starting gear
  7. Food/nutrition
  8. Water
  9. Tools
  10. Insulation and tarp (so you're not sitting on the cold ground. And so you can stay warm.)
  11. Fully charged cell phone and a portable charger

I will admit, I don't own a compass. But it's on my list to get after this talk. And while I rarely have a physical map on hikes, I do usually take a screenshot of the map online before going out. I've always got sunglasses with me, but I don't bring sunscreen. It's something that I'll start to store in my pack for when I go out.

I will bring my headlamp, and it's a fine one for now, but at some point I'd like to invest in a better one. I don't have a real first aid kit, I'll usually just bring a few basics when I go out like chafing cream and bandages, but I've been looking around at REI and have been trying to decide between the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight/Watertight .5 First-Aid Kit and the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight/Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit.

For fire-starting gear I'll either get a strike lighter or some waterproof matches. I always carry extra food and water, and my Swiss Army Knife, but I may also get a simple Swiss Army Knife to keep in the first-aid kit, just in case. And finally, I'm going to get this survival blanket for insulation.

I use my phone for pictures on hikes and can really run the battery down. I try to take a portable charger with me, but it keeps on getting misplaced, and on top of that, the battery doesn't hold a charge like it used to.

I'm also going to get a mirror and a whistle for my pack.

All of this will add some weight and bulk to my pack, but it'll completely be worth it if I need it.

What are your favorite hiking basics?

Reading List: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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I picked up Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I'm not sure exactly why I picked it up. Maybe to better understand some friends who have done, or want to do thru-hiking. I understand grief. I've gone through it. I know it changes you as a person. There are moments when I kinda of consider doing what Strayed did. Heck, after reading that she did it, I realized that I could do it. But I shouldn't. And I'd be slightly more moderate. And prepared.

Strayed makes poor decisions. She overpacks her pack. Doesn't train.

She just gets her stuff and goes on a potentially deadly journey. A journey that's deadly to even the prepared. She was extremely lucky and fortunate on the trail when if she hadn't had good fortune, she wouldn't have made it.

I'd heard that the book is polarizing but I don't entirely see how you could love it. In some ways I can see how it's empowering. But I don't think that one should be empowered to go on a journey like that with so little preparation. It'd be an entirely different story if she'd prepared and trained through her grief to do it instead of choosing it and being lucky. I'd be a lot more impressed with her if that's what had happened.

To be slightly fair, a coworker of mine attended a talk by Strayed and wasn't expecting much based on the book. She was very pleasantly surprised by Strayed which encouraged me.

Even though I finished it, it's not a book I'd recommend. She annoyed me as a character/person and made unwise decisions that exasperated me.

What are your opinions of the book?

Reading List: Ender's Game

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A friend of mine suggested I read Ender's Game, his favorite book. It's a military science fiction book by Orson Scott Card about Ender Wiggins, a genius little boy, and his two siblings, Valentine and Peter. Ender, and many other children, are being trained by the military to prepare for a third invasion of the "buggers" which are insect-like aliens while his two siblings are back on Earth doing their best to survive. The book really makes you think about empathy, morals, and strategy. Some of the bullying instances are very disturbing, especially considering the age of the children, but they do make you consider what defense is too far or not far enough. (Not for children, but for anyone.) These children aren't exactly normal children though. While I think that most children aren't given enough credit for their intelligence, the children featured in the book are far more intelligent than most children. The military does their best to mold these chosen children into what the military needs to defeat the buggers.They're treated, for better or worse, like adults.

I also think it speaks well to the pressures that probably face those in the military today. Making not just life or death decisions, but deciding what casualties are worth it take a toll on these characters and on those of us in the real world. While those decisions must be made, I can't imagine being one who makes them.

After reading it, I can see how many of my military friends have read it and why it's on the suggested reading list for the Marines. I'm waiting for the sequel, Speaker for the Dead, to become available from the library, so I can read it next.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Spring Cleaning

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Northwest Pearls: Spring Cleaning
Northwest Pearls: Spring Cleaning

Happy Spring! I've been inspired lately to get rid of a lot of my stuff. I've felt like I had so much because it's not just in my room, but in the storage room downstairs, and in the garage, and in an outer building. So I spent more than a few hours going through it all and deciding what to keep and what to give away or sell.

There are a lot of benefits to going through all of this:

  1. I now have less stuff. Much of what I've gotten rid of I don't wear, don't like, doesn't fit, etc. So it wasn't too hard to get rid of when I was in a brutal mood.
  2. What I do have it more organized. The boxes are all the same size and labeled. Instead of carefully wrapping my 24 matching teacups in newspaper and not knowing what is where or if these are the white and gold teacups, I got bubble wrap so you can see through it and mostly tell what it is, and I created a storage system so each is in its own compartment. I looked at buying one, like this one from Williams Sonoma, but ultimately wanted to save the money so I made my own pretty easily by creating cardboard dividers in a heavy-duty cardboard box and wrapping the cups in bubble wrap. I also printed detailed labels for the outside and inside of the boxes so I know how many and what are inside each box. This one from Bed Bath & Beyond is nice too.
  3. It's not as stressful. I now know where everything I own is.
  4. Every item of clothing I own, except for my snowpants, snowboots, and a few other assorted winter items, is in my room. They all fit in my closet, in my dresser, or under my bed. This is a huge deal. I've never been able to do that before. I've always had an extra 4+ boxes of clothes in the storage room downstairs or in the garage.
  5. I've rediscovered things I'd forgotten I owned. I came across a philosophy textbook right when I've just started studying philosophy for fun. It's been added to my "to-read" pile. I've also rediscovered a cute winter sweater. (Well, now winter is almost over but it's now in a drawer in my dresser for next year instead of a box in the garage.)

I've felt really great that I've been able to go through and get rid of so much. I wish that there was more I could get rid of. I'm currently dreaming of living in a tiny home, which is part of what inspired me to do this, but it's also something that's been needing to get done for years. I still have plenty of clothes, more than I wear, and lots of shoes, but I don't have clothes I don't like or that don't fit or that I feel bad getting rid of because I never wore them. And I've kept most of my book collection. Every book that I've enjoyed or I want to keep I've kept. But there were a lot of books I received for free from a neighbor once he read them. I read them and kept them, (he didn't want them back) but really didn't enjoy them or they have no value to me so now I have probably about fifty books to give away or sell.

I think it's also important to not keep things just because of sentimental value. There are a few things I've been getting rid of that belonged to my grandmother, but I don't like them and don't want them on display in my house. So they've been sitting in a box in the garage for years. Well that's ridiculous. I shouldn't be holding onto something just because it was hers. So I've been fairly brutal in what I've gotten rid of. I even had a gorgeous antique teapot from my grandmother in the pile. I would have kept it, but it had no lid and no maker's mark to try and find a replacement lid for. But my mother took it out of the pile and kept it for herself. (It was her mother-in-law's.)

If I was to be more brutal, I could really go through my closet and get rid of more. But I'm happy with how it is now, even if it is still a little full. Another thing I could challenge myself to do is to get rid of some of my books that are just decorations, like a set of history books from 1887. But I love the look of them and knowing that they're 130 years old. So I can't do it. At least not yet. But for now I have about 3 garbage bags of clothes, 50ish books, 8 sets of place settings, and some other assorted items to get rid of. So I'd call it pretty good.

I'd challenge you to try and get rid of some of the  stuff you don't use or need. It's very freeing.

What do you think of getting rid of the items that don't add value to your life?