Bend Bound!

 Photo: Nadia 

Photo: Nadia 

As our tires roll against the black tar I can’t help but feel like I am home. The constant movement and passing of landscape out my window stirs an energy inside of me liken to the feeling of climbing the tracks of a roller coaster.The road is simultaneously familiar yet foreign, exciting yet boring. I thrive in the unfamiliar and I encourage all challenges that the road decides to throw at me.

Beside me I’ve got my travel buddy Heather Jackson taking on the first leg of our journey. As we pass plains and prairies turn into a blur of browns and dull greens, leaving the Rockies in the rear view. We’re headed West, traveling from the eastern slope of Colorado to Bend, OR to surf the Deschutes river of all things. 

River surfers are kind of an anomaly. Who really drives 18 hours to surf a river wave in a place that is far from tropical? We could have easily gone to Southern California or even flown to Central America. But no, we’re choosing 5/4 wetsuits, helmets, and life jackets over bikinis and bare feet. Are we crazy? Maybe a little bit.

There's something to be said about the river surfing scene that doesn't exist in the ocean. River surfing, especially when I'm going to a man made feature, is just as much about the people as the surfing itself. I know I don't have to worry about localism (in most places) and I can count on making new friends. Rivers are familiar to me, I am not threatened by them or the people as I am in the ocean. 

I view Bend as training grounds for river surfing. I've always preferred natural features. Yes, it's much more difficult to find a wave with the smoothness and uniformity of the adjustable Bend feature but I'm not going for perfect. I've heard the term of river waves being more like a surfing treadmill and I only find that to be accurate for waves like Bend, Boise, and RRP (Denver). A treadmill is something you use when it's too cold outside to run in order to stay in shape. That's how I view these waves...I surf them to get into shape (or to scartch the itch) for the natural more dynamic features such as Pipeline, Lunchcounter, and other waves of that nature.

River surfing, to me, has always been about the connection to the Nature. To feeling the energy and power of the river and channeling that. I feel the high of surfing from these adjustable features, they are an absolutely blast, and I wish the Bend wave was in my backyard but it is not the same feeling I get from a natural feature. My ideal waves are removed from civilization, they are dynamic, shifting and morphing into what feels like a completely new wave.

This is not a knock on Bend at all, I love Bend. And I'm not saying it isn't river surfing. There is just something so beautiful about surfing a feature that was built by nature. 

Lean into Discomfort

 Photo:  Zach Mahone

I recently attended a meditation class with the 'Meditation Training Community of Denver'. It began with 30 minutes of meditation followed by a Dharma talk. I had never attended a meditation class before, I have always practiced privately, and I didn't know what to expect. I ended up gaining some pretty fundamental insights from the experience.

I've been doing a lot of internal work over the past three months. Asking a lot of questions in an attempt to bring awareness to my actions and the motives behind them. Lately, I've been having some issues with my relationship with social media. I recognized it as a negative force in my life whether it was comparing my life to others or wasting time mindlessly scrolling and watching stories. And then I started asking myself why? Why am I on social media right now? How is this serving me?

Meditation is about resting in the discomfort, leaning into it and not letting that discomfort deter us from our intention. During the practice of meditation we place our focus on an object whether it be the breath, love, impermanence, or even emptiness. Next, we breath into that and do our best to maintain it. But sometimes we forget, we forget where our focus is suppose to be, and before we know it we've drifted off into thought without noticing. But with enough practice one begins to notice more and forget less. And for me the goal is always awareness...working towards the awareness of being lost in thought and having the ability to bring it back to my intention. 

Some may think meditation is meant to relax you but really it is work. Immense amounts of effort is put forth to train the mind. It can be incredibly uncomfortable and boring. There are many times I've been discouraged but instead of running from the discomfort I choose to sit in it. I dust myself off and begin again.

In that class I realized that this training translates to every other part of my life. I  want to carry this awareness with me every single moment of the day. So, why did I just grab my phone and start scrolling or texting? The answer is easy...because I don't want to sit in the discomfort of boredom or loneliness. Because I want the instant gratification from the likes, follows, and comments. 

Once I had that awareness everything shifted. Now, every time I reach for my phone I ask myself why? If the answer is ever because I am bored or lonely I refrain or at least I try. All it takes is having the awareness. Once you have that you can start doing the work. I go into Instagram or Facebook with an intention, I focus on that intention, and once I find that I've forgotten it (mindlessly watching stories usually) I begin again or I put my phone down. Social media doesn't have to be a negative thing as long as we are mindful of why we are using it and we pay attention to how it makes us feel. 

I think so many of us go through life driven by impulse and desire without taking the time to ask why. I encourage all of you to ask yourself why and answer the question honestly...do not make excuses. We may not like the answer to the question but acknowledgement is the first step towards change. 

 

Writing....

 Photo:  Heather Jackson  

People keep telling me I need to invest in my personal "brand" (I need to come up with a different term other than brand. To consider myself a brand feels a little too egocentric for my comfort level). This is what I know about myself. I love writing!! Writing is an extension of myself. I don't have any educational background in writing, my grammar may not be perfection, and I may not know much about structure...but I love it. There isn't a day that I don't want to write. Often times what I am writing is just stream of consciousness....a journal. There are mornings where I don't know what to write about and I will sit there until it comes to me because I WANT to write. And then, once my thought has passed, I try to come up with something else because I don't want to stop writing. I could write in my journal all day if I had the bandwidth. 

I'm an observer. I always have been...I can trace it back to 1996 when I saw 'Harriet the Spy' with Michelle Trachtenberg and Rosie O'Donnell. Harriet would travel around her neighborhood, in a yellow trenchcoat,  notebook in hand, spying on the same characters day in and day out. She would write her observations down, seeing things in people that they probably didn't see in themselves. She took the time to stop and look, to see others. I was drawn to this. Not so much the spying but the observing. It was after that film that I started my very first journal. What it evolved into was a sort of spying on myself, a look inside of my mind, an observation of my thoughts. I could write whatever I felt without the fear of judgment...it was the most liberating form of expression I had ever experienced.

From there I found poetry. There wasn't a particular poet that impacted me it was music...words coupled with beautiful sounds was my kryptonite. I would stay up late at night, laying in bed, listening to music I downloaded illegally over dial-up internet. It was a drug. What struck me about poetry was the ability to be completely vulnerable to the public in a sort of coded way...allowing the reader/listener to feel the impact of it in a way thats unique to them.

Nothing has had more of an impact on me than beautiful/ugly stories of human experience. I am interested in the journey of a human life. I’m interested in how our experiences affect how we see the world. I’m interested in the labyrinth that is the human mind. This is why I write. To understand. To find connection. To document my experience because I believe there is value in observing and analyzing the effects of such experiences. 

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So when I think of my personal brand...I think of writing. I think if I want to develop or find my "personal brand" I must develop and shape my voice as a writer...of which will always be evolving. This means investing money and time into some writing workshops. It means balancing my days so I nurture my creative side and not allowing myself to be consumed to the point of burn out by work. I'm not sure if I want to make writing my vocation...maybe...but I know I love sharing my experiences with you and I'm not sure why. Maybe it is completely self serving...I don't know if that's a bad thing. But I know I am going to keep doing it.

My goal is to write something on here every week. I'm looking for some input...is there anything any of you would like to see more of? Any topics you'd like to see me write about? Should I build a newsletter into my website? I am open to input of all sorts. If there are any questions anyone is interested in me answering please ask them. You can do so in the comments below or send me an e-mail at brittanyparkerco@gmail.com. Thank you to everyone who believes in and supports me.