Monday, July 14, 2014


My cousin Karen - and her husband & their sons - just recently moved from Minnesota to Bend. In the months leading up to this cross-country move, which would bring them much closer to home, we would use the hash tag BENDORBUSTBITCHES to calm her down in moments of moving stress and freak out moments. It became a joke throughout the family, and whenever she'd be freaking out about where they'd live, or work, or work out, or whether or not they would meet anyone or have any friends, we'd just hash tag her, and all would be well.

I went to visit them this week, on my way to Sun River, and had a great time. I am so happy to have her home, with only two hours instead of two flights, between us.

I left Vancouver on Thursday after work, and mistakenly took the "long way" to Bend, by way of Highway 84, past Multnomah Falls and through the Gorge, then down Highway 35, and back around the other side of Mt. Hood. It was a beautiful drive, even though it took 4 hours instead of 2, and Karen was waiting up for me well past bed time. I took my time, listened to my music loud, and pulled over at a couple viewpoints to snap some photos. In the 4 hours it took to drive, windows down, from home to Bend, it occurred to me how rare it is that I have a block of time to myself, with no cell phone, no TV, and nothing I "have" to get done. It was amazing. I just drove, sang along with my CD player, and was grateful for the 3 hours of the drive in which I had no cell reception.

I don't do enough of that. I don't turn off my phone enough. I don't get off of Facebook enough. I don't log out of my email or turn off the TV enough. I am constantly connected to my entire world, to all of my friends and family, and even to my job, through my iPhone, and I don't often enough make myself log out, put it away, and focus on myself. I need to do a better job at that. Being disconnected from life always has the same effect on me - a calming effect, where I feel like the air smells fresher and the sun is brighter, and where I can literally get lost in the book I am reading or the song I am listening to. Reading a book without interruption - even when it's a friend calling - is an experience I can't get enough of, and don't give myself often enough.

Friday morning, after I slept in and took my time playing Candyland with Aiden & Grant, Karen and I went for a five mile trail walk, which was easy & relaxing at points, with some uphill challenges as well; but the views were gorgeous and being able to get outside and just enjoy my cousin's company was great.

After our walk, I took off from Bend to meet my cousin Stacey & her husband, our friend Juliana & her husband, and their 3 little ones in Sun River for the rest of the weekend. I showed up at nap time (for the kids), so everyone else was just lounging around. I read some of my book, we played board games, and after nap we had dinner on the patio and played in the grass. I spent Saturday, once again away from my phone, floating the river with Stacey, Tyler, and Patrick, while Juliana stayed behind and played with the boys. We ate, drank, enjoyed the sunshine, and rode bikes to the park. All without access to email. All without answering any phone calls. All with minimal texting.

Despite the three kids and the very full house, it was a very relaxing weekend with minimal toddler melt downs, good company, and amazing weather. Totally worth the long drive both ways, and a great reminder that sometimes life gets hectic and you have to force yourself away from work mode and just let yourself get sucked into the book you've been reading, or the board game you're trying to play, or the tricycle rider at your feet.

I left Sun River on Sunday afternoon and spent the next 3 hours driving through small towns, along riverbanks, and eventually into rush hour traffic on the freeway, again with the music up loud and my cell phone just out of reach (it was out of signal range anyway), and again with the mental clarity only a vacation weekend can bring.

I need to be better at remembering to chase happiness, in whatever form it looks like. More weekends away, more time with my family, more time with my nose in a book, and less time connected to a phone that dings every time a resident calls in a work order. The world will keep spinning, even if I step out of orbit for a moment.