The Road Home

It was always the road out of town – the road past Costco that takes you to Burns along long stretches of big sky and sagebrush. Highway 20, its official name. It was the road to elsewhere, the road to adventure, to new chapters and discovery.

It was the road heading out on my first solo-road trip (to the Tetons), to visit family in Salt Lake City, to go to college in Vermont, to move to Kansas, or to just camp in the hills of Horse Ridge. It was always leading to another chapter, or a new moment.

Now, it is the road home.

I noticed that today, driving back from the Badlands, cresting over one horizon to see the mountains lined up brilliantly in front of the blue sky of another horizon.

I know all of the mountain names (thanks, mom), and they are familiar to me in a way that I knew them before I could crawl, speak, or hear thoughts. The peaks and crags and curves and heights that are somehow a part of me, a part of us.

There – lined up on the horizon – welcoming us home after we turn around.

Central Oregon Book Project – The Idea

It was in a writing workshop session with Lynell George – a stunning journalist based in Los Angeles – where the thought first formed.

It was a workshop about place. I am a person who wrestles with any kind of change, and I was often writing about change to explore resolution and meaning and possibility. I was writing things like this, and posting things like this, exploring ways that we can share, listen, and consciously create our community together through place.

In the workshop, we sat on the floor leaning against pillows in a big yurt near the ocean. Lynell was talking about place. Excerpts from my notes:

– Sense of place for moving a story forward

– Don’t waste that space with something that doesn’t tell me anything

– Place is complex – texture and feel

– Another layer of story

– Memory that is so vivid, you feel that it is your own

Each angle is composed within nature’s eye. I look here and moss drips from the trees, I look there at the unfamiliar pattern of a spider’s web hanging from edges of branches. The small orange flower snuck into the waves of green leaves by the step – do less, change is small. When it’s too big we hold our breath.

– Space – hold space – create a space and world for the reader, for things to return to them

– How relationship to place changes

– What happens w/ change – take out the emotion

– Explore – shifting and changing, feel the shifts

– While people think they know – do they really – all the perspectives

– Keep looking, keep looking

– Thank you for input words thoughts questions


The workshop was over. I waited to be the last one to walk back with Lynell up the road, and ask her thoughts about writing through place and change.

Somewhere along the line – I can’t recall if it was the walk by the trees and the ocean, or if it was sitting on the earth in the Big Yurt – that I realized that place is not just a single voice and is not just mine. It is many voices, many perspectives, many timelines, many epochs, many feet on the ground and many breaths in the air and many words spoken. It is all of us. It is personal. It is one.

And, I thought: this grappling of me finding love in change of place/home, it is not only me. It is us. It is all of us.

All over the world, which starts here.

Our stories, about our connection to Central Oregon, through our voices.

Thus, the idea for Central Oregon Book Project was born.



Stacking Wood

Find the thin leather gloves

Slip them over hands

Step onto the rotting porch boards

Push open the gate-that-sticks

With the side of body

Walk to the pile of wood

Lift the tarp’s corner and peek.

Take a breath

Bend over and lift the logs

Testing for weight, for shape, selecting

To cradle in arms the cracked



The peeling bark

Rings exposed

Juniper, Pine, Oak, Fir

Walk back on the porch

to the hollowed spaces


*Gratitude to Irene Cooper, beautiful poet and teacher of Introduction to Poetry class for Central Oregon Community College Continuing Education


A first house that I bought, three months before the word “pandemic” became official, is snuggled into a street filled with 1980 ranch-style homes. It is one of the first streets on the east side of Bend, now surrounded by new subdivisions and a park, which used to be a nursery for pine trees managed by the Forest Service.

Drive half a mile down the street, and there are still barns and horses and goats and tractors on the road. Thank goodness for that.

There is also construction. Both ends of the street are being turned into two-lane roundabouts to help manage traffic. The large machines vibrate in constant rhythm between 8 am – 5 pm, but ceases on the evenings and weekends.

I go for walks in the evening during this quiet to the former nursery, and pass through the zones of construction and the closed sidewalks. Over the dirt tire treks and stilled orange machinery, paused in repose and stillness.

Looking into the pits of where there will be sewers, I see below the Earth into the layers of large rocks. I had no idea.

It changes each day, what is happening, but for now I can stand in the middle of the soon-to-be-made roundabout, now a layer of flat gravel above strata of rock thousands of years old, holding us up, looking at the mountain view, with nothing at all moving around me other than the clouds above.

It reminds me of the times when I was young, going to the construction site with my parents when they were building the house. All the space between the bones to see the trees and the sky and such a breath of foundation.

It is the making. The silence, the quiet, the stillness, before we all start going in circles again.


A Thought

I was walking across the parking lot the other day, toward a Whole Foods. A bald man with a Dakine hoodie walked the other way toward me, holding a sandwich and laughing.

The distance between us collapsed and he looked at me, still grinning and amused. When we passed, I smiled and asked:

“What’s funny?”

He responded: “You must be thinking that I’m really hungry, to start eating my sandwich while walking to my car.”

The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.

So, I had to laugh with him.

‘About Today’

Today you were far away.

The evening was warm. Weathermen threatened thunder and storms, but the sky was partly cloudy and let the sun through for the show.

The National was playing at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, in Bend. I gathered with friends to drink wine and beer and whisky, and listen to the voice that melts us.

What could I say.

Honkers flew above the stage. The sun set in pinks and the night slowly poured over.

Tonight you just close your eyes.

The heart broke open, as it often does on a daily basis. The singer hunched over the microphone after swigging from a bottle. A light glinted off his glasses, broken strings of a violin bow swayed in the breeze, strangers moved together: today.

Hey, are you awake

Yeah I’m right here

Well, can I ask you about today?



(See About Today, The National)


Opposite Day

A day of so-called self-enhancement started with watching a Sesame Street episode that re-taught me a handful of ethics and some forgotten self-compassion, as I babysat my friend’s 18-month-old daughter. A counseling session, a massage, a few hours of reading, and a Yin yoga class followed the #SesameStreetWisdoms morning. The day rounded out with meditation and a Dharma talk (sharing Buddhist teachings) in the evening. I returned home to catch the last 15 minutes of Dancing with the Stars, but I’m not convinced that is part of the so-called self-enhancement.

The day of personal exploration left me feeling more uncertain than enlightened, but that is all part of the process – and it is the process that matters, or the intention. Not the outcome.

Today, struggling with thoughts instead of clearing them up, I recognized a few lessons for myself. And, of course, they are also contradictory.


Share when you want to hoard.

“No sweet girl, that’s my phone,” I told the toddler as she reached for the cell phone. “My phone,” she replied. “It’s my phone honey,” I kindly debated.

The next words stumbled out of her mouth as if she didn’t mean to say them. “Our phone,” she responded. Yes, of course. Our phone. She relented some of her ground, she took the first step, and it made everything right. So I also relented and she climbed up on the couch with me and we took pictures of ourselves. Our phone.

When I don’t feel good about myself, I want to keep as much energy as I can because I think I need it to feel better. But when I share that energy – even if it’s just an honest smile with a stranger or letting a toddler mis-text someone on my phone – that’s when I really feel good about myself.

Open when you want to protect.

I visited my counselor after a substantial hiatus because I noticed some old patterns and reactions surfacing. Since we’re being honest here (first blog post), jealousy is a concern high on the list.

It didn’t hit me like it has in the past, but I noticed it twirling in the depths of the Macbeth witch pot. I saw it wanting to reach up and grab my heart, mind, and ego.

In the session, I told the counselor of this girl in middle school whom I admired and wanted to emulate. I started learning world geography and watching James Bond movies in seventh grade, because she liked them and I wanted to be like her. Our education and careers since middle school actually took parallel paths, and she recently achieved goal in her career that I really respect and envy. I began comparing myself against her, again, like in middle school.

Jealousy actually stems from admiration. When we want to protect our ego, our vulnerabilities, our stories – we could actually open into them instead of hiding in them. When we open into what we are scared of and want to protect, that’s when we begin to heal.


Be when you want to flee.

I don’t want to be here. I laid in the yoga class, thinking this would be the perfect end to a perfect day, and it wasn’t. My mother and I had gotten into a re-occurring discussion, apparently an emotionally loaded dialogue for me, waiting for the yoga studio to open. I wanted to leave and be by myself; I was done opening and sharing for the day.

But, the yoga teacher showed up. I had grand dreams in my head of telling her that I was actually going to leave – that it wasn’t her, it was me – but I was just not in the “right” present presence for yoga.

Although, all of the presence is the right present. It is right, because it’s happening now. During the yoga class and the Dharma talk I resisted most of it, but that’s ok, because even though I didn’t want to be there, I was there.

For every moment (or at least most of them) I was there. Fully.

And for me, right now, I think that’s enlightenment.

Sports! *Jazz Hands*

Anything Could Happen, Any Given Sunday

“Simmer down,” an equally rowdy table shouted to us across a sea of green and yellow. At the local sports bar in Bend, Oregon, I sat quietly at times, and not so quietly at times, proudly sporting my new purple Kansas State t-shirt.

I was one Wildcat in a flock of Ducks. It was time for a fiesta.

On the first play, with not even 20 seconds having passed in the first quarter, Oregon received the ball with the Duck-like speed and efficiency, running down the field into the inzone. People in the bar stood and cheered and clapped. I sat there with a gaping mouth, in shock, stuck to my seat and holding my cold beer. But, I still felt easy and full of hope.

Because that is part of sports: faith. As an enduring Beaver fan, I am well aware of the concepts of loyalty and trust and love. I understand those sporting emotions much better than the penalty for a personal foul, or what third down conversion means, or that the correct term is endzone, and not inzone.






After that first play in the Fiesta Bowl, the Colts fan next to me found statistics from the 2007 Superbowl. The Bears pulled the same touchdown-on-the-first-play move against the Colts six years ago, but the fan informed me that Indianapolis came back to win the game 29-17. She was providing proof that anything could happen.

In the end, the Ducks won (32-17), but I was proud to be Wildcat that day. The table I was sitting with, comprising of two friends and one stranger, were all clapping for Kansas State by the end of the game.

A football game, a basketball game, a baseball game – sports are proof that anything can happen, that faith can be freeing, that loyalty can be enough. It is a way for us to believe, and see, that possibilities are everywhere.

(See Anything Could Happen, Ellie Goulding)

Duct Taping Truths – Not Dogs

I sip the last of the Bulleit whiskey while reclining on a couch that I am being paid to occupy. Before leaving on vacation, my friends generously instructed me to finish all “perishable” items – including the whiskey and the eggs – before their return. On the couch, I sit next to a incredibly sweet but still-not-quite-amazing-enough-for-me-to-want-my-own dog. This is a surprising statement coming from a resident of Bend, Oregon. I am a part of a hometown that proudly boasts one of the highest number of dogs per capita in the United States. I feel slightly guilty admitting that I want a dog as much as I want an unexpected pregnancy – although I am sure that there is an amazing amount of room in both situations for love and surprise – but I figure I better start out with the truth with you. This is my first blog, and I need to be honest. Not just for you, but for me too.

I intended to begin this blog discussing where my own life has fallen parallel to the connections that we make across continents and across time – our personal voyages of discovery that join moments of truth and beauty, while we surrender to heart-uprisings or unexpected down-stirrings, within the boundless extents of historical humanity and changing geographical horizons. But, I hope, there will be time for that later.

Now, instead of sharing these examples of my own journey (if you are Bachelor fan, you must drink at the mention of this word), I must admit how surprisingly happy I am to be “HOME.” I usually never want to be home. I need to be walking into hopeless deserts or breathing into blue oceans, I need to be pushing my own boundaries into unexpected landscapes to feel like the “person I want to be.” 

But, right now, I sip this sweet beagle’s ration of bourbon, and she sleeps next to me on the couch in tail-curling comfort. We listen to Ryan Adams and “Dirty Dancing” on vinyl as the needle catches on crackling dust.

This dog trusts me. Maybe not like Baby trusted Patrick Swayze when his smooth arms lifted her innocent curls up to near-heaven, but this beagle actually trusts me. She knows that I will not duct tape her twitching paws together, and that I will not sharpie a cattail on her Central Oregon white-ish underbelly. She knows that I will feed her in the mornings, and take her out to the lakes in the afternoon.

She is precisely where I need to be right now. Trusting. Trusting that this is the exact spot, on this couch, where we need to exist. Trusting that right now, it is perfect.