Rooted - My Connection To Nature

Home is Where You Make It (2).png

Dear Reader,

The last post I wrote for PNW Wandering was 8 months ago, less than a week before I left the Pacific Northwest for a 7 month trek across the country and around the world.

I have been back on PNW soil for about a month now and it’s been a wild ride — more to come on this transition on Friday so stay tuned. But for now, I am cozied up in the one room public library of the town I now call home. I am sitting criss-cross-applesauce staring at teen novels, as the sun streams in from the window beside me, and for one of the first times since coming home a month ago I feel at peace.

I attribute this peace to the major rooting I’ve done this past week. Not simply rooting to this new home, but rooting to the wilderness, to the wild land I live on, and to my ancestors who walked the land before me; to rooting into a remembrance of a childhood spent building forts in the deep Alaskan wilderness, returning worms to the mud, and traipsing through the land of the national forest I now live on full time.

While walking through the trails in my newfound backyard, I began to reflect on my roots, on the stories I often tell about my childhood, of concrete cul-de-sacs and ice-creams cones from Whole Foods. However, these city and suburb stories are such a small part of my childhood, and shaped me in lesser ways than the time I spent in the wild.

As this realization surfaced I recorded my thoughts as I wandered through the woods. They are imperfect, they are raw and unedited, but they are true, and I hope they resonate with you and enliven a connection to nature that you may have lost within yourself years ago.

So here are my words and a video of the oasis (yes, an oasis even with the mice, beetles, bats and lack of cellular data) that I now, and in so many ways have always, called home:

I feel a bit off kilter sharing more spoken than written words with ya’ll, but it’s what an overwhelming majority of you requested so please feel free to let me know what you think. I would love to hear the stories you tell about your connection with nature in your childhood, and what you remember when you take time to look back.

With lots of love,

Annalise

Patreon Launch

Dear Readers,

When I first created Empowered Wanderer in February, I felt unsure. Launching Empowered Wanderer felt like a huge leap of faith. I was putting myself out there and doing something I’d never done before. I knew I had some support behind me, my family and friends would probably follow Empowered Wanderer.

But over the past 7 months I have been consistently taken aback by the people I reach. From an acquaintance met long ago in a hostel in Nice, to previous classmates, and even men and women I’ve never met. It is because of you, your support and love for my crazy, wild ambition that I continue to create content.

I may write to empower you, but what I don’t say enough is: YOU inspire me!

As I plan my trip around the world (my itinerary is officially mapped out on Google Docs and my departure date is set for Tuesday the 25th), I feel unsure once again. Similar questions pop into my mind: is it worth the risk? Will it be valuable? Will it matter?

And then, I think about each one of you and the support you have given so effortlessly. I am reassured, for I know that the stories and lessons I gain will be shared with each one of you and blossom into something even larger and even more magical.

With your support fueling me, I have created a Patreon account to provide you with extra blog posts, emails, empowerment event access, travel videos, Q&A’s and more! I wanted to create a platform where I could give back to you for supporting me. And a platform where you can contribute to my creation! I am so jazzed about the opportunity to empower on an even larger level!

This is a link to my Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/empoweredwanderer) and there’s a super exclusive and special welcome and thank you video on there for you to watch!

I can’t wait to continue on this journey with you! Thank you so much for all that you do to inspire and support me. My heart is filled with love for you!

With gratitude and lots of excitement,

Annalise

New Places

Dear Reader,

As I sat down to write to you, I found myself at a fair trade cafe in Olympia. Now, as the sun peeks through the Seattle clouds I am back in Capitol Hill at a magic little coffee shop, full of a steamy london fog and rainy morning air.

The beauty in this? Each place is unique and different. Each spot has its’ own magic. Each one is new to me, unfamiliar. And this newness, this contrast, sweet readers, is exactly what I planned to write about it. And the universe seems to be in full support of this plan.

This piece began to take shape as I sat at the harbor park in Olympia, WA, breathing in the sea air and settling after 3 hours of Seattle and Tacoma traffic. It later came to life on paper in Traditions Cafe down the street.

As I walked to Traditions, I thought about how close Bellingham, Seattle and Olympia are. All separated, or rather connected, by a few hours driving on I-5. All on the north side of the mountains in Washington State. But each city is so different. So full of its’ own spirit. And own people.

For so long, I wrote exclusively in Bellingham. My spots were familiar, calm and quiet. I wrote outside at Teddy Bear Cove, in the Terra Market that has since closed, or curled up in my bed. The city is small and quirky, but it’s a quirk I know well, and identify with. A city filled with people and places I understand, connect with, and fall into without effort.

When I write here in Capitol Hill I feel off kilter, there are more people. They are dressed in corporate clothing. But they carry reusable coffee mugs and wrap themselves in scarves that tell secrets of their true style. I feel distracted by constant movement, and hustle. I feel excited by the life that exists here. It’s different, it’s less connected, but more alive.

When I wrote in Olympia last night I felt grounded, I felt welcomed by a zany waitress, warmed by incredibly tasty and cheap food. Softened by the string band music, the tapestries on each table, and the particularly unappealing welded art on the walls.

Point being, I find comfort in knowing that some cities and towns will fit better than others. I won’t know which is which until I’m there. Each one will be important. Some will excite, and some will calm. Each will teach me something new, awaken some part of me that was sleeping. Each will challenge me to better understand where I belong, or rather, how to belong to myself and in myself as I weave in and out of our world.


So, here’s to exploring each new city. May they hold unique places to write, new people to observe, tons of food to eat and countless pups to pet. May they hold life, love, connection and solitude. May the exist exactly as they are, I give them thanks for allowing me to step in and out of them

With love,

Annalise



PNW Wandering - New Places, click to read!

Resolutions

Dear Reader,

When I sat down to write "Unmatched" on Sunday I opened a journal I've only used on one other occasion - a journal I purchased at the dollar store on December 31st 2017. It was a last minute buy; Cody and I were on our way to Teddy Bear Cove to soak up the last day of the year in a hammock, reflecting and writing. But I was without a journal. So I grabbed a tiny journal for a dollar and happily sat and wrote two very important entries.

  1. Gratitude Practice 2017
  2. 2018 Resolutions 

On Sunday I read both these entires with a huge smile on my face. For the past two years I've written down my resolutions, in big long lists. In fact, I remember reading my resolutions from December 31st 2016, and thinking, "Damn. Those did not come to be." As is all too common.

But this year I was determined to follow my resolutions. I spent the last day of 2017 in one of my favorite spots in the PNW, writing about the beautiful places I would see this year, the beautiful things I would pursue and accomplish. And here I sit today, in the co-op, in my PNW shirt, ready to set off and leave the land I love to follow my resolutions fully. With this said, I'd like to share my gratitude and my resolutions with you.

Gratitude Practice 2017:

In 2017 I am grateful for:

  1. The Women's March
  2. The Black Lives Matter March
  3. My little apartment in Lynden
  4. Every hike I have completed - or perhaps, not completed
  5. Gypsy-Rita
  6. Presence Studio
  7. Support and Love
  8. My Therapist
  9. Hammocking at Teddy Bear Cove
  10. Steady-ISH income 
  11. The families I babysit for
  12. My family
  13. Myself
  14. The writing I have done
  15. Freedom
  16. Naked photo shoots
  17. Cody and my trip to Lopez Is - thanksgiving bagels and thrift store finds
  18. Bob Bags and the White Envelope Christmas Tradition
  19. Yummy Food
  20. Leavenworth and the Enchantments 
  21. My partner's hugs
  22. Good Music
  23. Solo Hikes
  24. Kelsey's Dance Workship
  25. The Ability to travel
  26. Blue Skies
  27. Mountain Tops
  28. Brunch
  29. Marcus the cat
  30. Kaari's Friendship
  31. Daphne - my Honda
  32. Fresh Air (not smokey: anti-gratitude haha)
  33. Taco's and Tequila
  34. Shower Baths (my favorite)
  35. Mason - my nephew
  36. GG - my grandma
  37. Mother Nature

2018 Resolutions: 

  1. Be kinder and more patient with myself
  2. Honest Communications 
  3. Let go of toxic relationships 
  4. Work through my anger
  5. Dance more
  6. Spend your free time outdoors
  7. Gypsy-Rita Trips
  8. Blog
  9. Become financially secure and satisfied by something that works for me
  10. Sleep under the stars a lot
  11. Swim a ton - in the ocean 
  12. Drink more mulled wine
  13. One trip abroad this year
  14. At least 5 solo trips this year
  15. LOVE BIG!
  16. Remember/rediscover your love for fitness in whatever way is right for you
  17. Hot Yoga
  18. More gratitude 
  19. More sunsets and sunrises (preferably on mountain tops)
  20. Do more shit that serves you
  21. Hone into your strength, power and self love, and trust your god-damn self, QUEEN!
  22. 500 words a day

So there you have it, I had a ton to be grateful for in 2017. But mostly I want to talk about my resolutions. In 2016 and 2017 I made resolutions that mattered to me deeply. Ones that would inspire growth, challenge me, and fill my heart with joy. And for the first time in my life I feel like I'm really on track to accomplishing them ALL. I am not there yet but I am on my way.

Sitting here in the co-op in a sea of people I am holding back tears. Because it is all too rare for us to follow our intentions, our resolutions, our goals (whatever you'd like to call them). We are often pre-occupied with our shoulds, our partners, our friends, our families, everything that we hold more important than ourselves.

It's the classic: sign up for a gym membership in January and cancel it by March situation. I've fallen into it for countless years. And I find this pattern overwhelmingly disheartening. But this year I reached a space where I decided I was done putting myself behind everything else. 

Because of this decision, I started Empowered Wanderer, I am about the set out on a solo trek around the world, I danced my ass off, I let go of toxic relationships, I pursued friendships that scared me, I learned how to boulder, I solo hiked, I swam in the ocean, quit two jobs that did not serve me and planned a retreat for women to harness their own power and remember their value. 

Imagine if we all re-learned our value, if we began to to put ourselves first and live our lives with the intention of pursuing joy and passion.

I'm sure it's way easier said than done - after all it's taken me 24 years - but I encourage each one of you to make your own lists. Write your gratitude, think about everything in your life that gives you energy, joy and light. And then write about how you can cultivate more of this, everything you will do for yourself to ignite your fire for life again. 

May we all live with our souls blazing and our hearts pumping, as our resolutions are not only seen, but realized.

With love,

Annalise

Creating a Home on The Road

Dear Reader,

Today is August 1st 2018. Today I gave my employer two weeks notice - stay tuned for my feminist Friday post on how damn good this felt. For today's Wandering Wednesday post I want to talk about how big of a turning point today marks.

Today, marks two weeks until I can focus on empowered wanderer full time.

Today, marks 1 month until I move out of my partner's home.

Today marks 1 and a half months until I set out to travel this world in a car and out of pack.

So, today, I want to right about the future. Today, I am bursting with excitement about what is right around the corner. In just a month and a half my biggest home will be my car, and my smallest will be my 60L pack. And boy, is that a huge shift from a 1000 square foot apartment.

I spent a lot of time thinking about creating a home on the road when I was wandering through Colorado last month.

During my time in CO, I spent so little time alone. I was in an out of meetings. I met hundreds or people, and socialized until every ounce of life was sucked out of me. This was partially because it was a business trip. However, this is a pattern for me. When I travel, I give my energy away. I overcommit myself. I rarely stop to create space for myself. 

When I traveled through Europe, it was not until my last month abroad that I created solitude for myself. When I recently explored the Rockies it was not until my very last night that I took time to sit, eat alone, write and breathe in the mountain air.

And when I wrote, I wrote about the importance of creating a home on the road. I wrote the words: "I don't miss home, I just miss sinking into my space." 

So this will be my challenge. Create space for myself to sink into.

I will challenge myself to say no just as much as a I say yes during my travels. To turn folks away who take life and energy away from me. To invite humans in who hold space and exude love.

To create a home in my car, a cozy little bed, a oasis I can escape to.

To always carry a book and journal in my pack that allow me time to escape.

To walk trails alone more than I walk them with others.

And to always listen to myself; to crank the volume down on the voices around me so I can clearly hear my own.

My travels will be about creating a home around myself, where ever I wander...and moreover, truly finding a home within myself.

Here's to creating homes on the road, homes we can carry deep in the centers of our being!

With love,

Annalise

 

A Body’s Intuition ​​​​​​​

Dear Reader,

It’s Wednesday once again! Empowered Wanderer feels so empty to me without last week’s post. But a week off lent me some inspiration. I spent last week on business in the Rocky Mountains. I drove through the National Park at elevations 12,000+ feet above sea level. This is particularly insane because Bellingham, WA sits 69 feet above sea level.

For those of you who know me well, you might understand why such a drastic change in elevation would scare me. For those of you who don’t, here’s a quick recap: I am the queen of catching colds, viruses, anything really and I get serious motion sickness in every moving vehicle. Shocking how often I travel with this in mind, but it could never stop me. In any case, if anyone was going to get altitude sickness it would be me. I even spoke with a woman at the airport who lives in Denver and gets altitude sickness simply driving up to the Rockies. What’s more? Three out of four people experience altitude sickness when traveling to high altitude states like Colorado.

With all this in mind I figured my chances of avoiding altitude sickness were slim. Nonetheless, I thought of two of my favorite people my dear friend Alex and my Mom - two absolute pro’s at manifestation. I decided to see myself healthy, exploring the Rocky Mountains, soaking up the sun, taking in indescribable views.

When I arrived in Colorado, I felt great! Exhausted from the flight perhaps, but no headache, dizziness or flu like symptoms for me. Even as I climbed in elevation up to Estes Park my body hung in like a total champ. When a fellow traveler retreated to her room with a debilitating headache due to altitude sickness, I trekked through the Rockies at Sunset.

The only instance throughout my entire trip when I felt any instance of altitude sickness was at over 12,000 feet, and in a moment it was gone. Sure, I took care of myself, I drank lots of water, and rested a bit. But honestly, I didn’t get enough sleep, I stayed out in the sun, and I moved a ton!

So, here’s what I have to say about that. Yes, I manifested a healthy body. I totally believe my mind played a role in the way that I felt. But more strongly, I believe our body is our biggest ally, and has a wealth of knowledge we cannot even begin to grasp.

I believe I was meant to be in Colorado, and to spend my time in the way I did. I was meant to run through the mountains, tan my fair skin, sing loudly in the car, and take crazy pictures at 12000 ft. Colorado felt like home the moment I stepped off the plane and my body knew it without doubt.

In various different moments throughout my life my body has reacted before my mind. You know that moment where the hairs on the back of your neck stand up before you can consciously realize you’re in danger. Or that instance of awkward silence where your feet begin to move because your body is begging you to run away. We notice this more poignantly when our bodies react negatively to the situations or places we find ourself in. But how beautiful is it to take note when our bodies react positively.

My body went through bumpy plane rides, camp food, extreme elevation changes, and way too little sleep and still she thrived. She was teaching me a big lesson. If I am only to listen to my body, if I take cues from my physical being about where I belong, who I am meant to spend time with, and what I am meant to do, I know I will end up on just the right path!

So here’s to being grounded in our bodies, to sinking into our feet, to listening to our corporeal being and trusting that how we feel physically, means a whole heck-of-alot!

May you all trust your own bodies to lead you in just the right direction!

I know I do!

 

With love,

Annalise

Belonging

Dear Reader,

I want to share this piece with you exactly how I wrote it in my journal. It won't be perfect, clean or tidy. But it will be real. I want to share with you authentically. For it may not be the most beautifully written piece on Empowered Wanderer. But it is one of my favorites, because it makes me feel so damn good! I hope it makes you feel good too lovely people! 

So here's what I wrote:

Today I peed outside, as the waves kissed my feet and a tiny red crab crawled out of a tide pool next to me.

Today I wrote in a community journal, found in a hidden rock cave. I wrote about agency; about a woman who was placed in a home without her permission, who was committed to a purpose she did not choose. I wrote about a woman who stepped into nature, who allowed the rain to wash over her cheeks. I wrote about a woman who set herself free to discover her own desires.

I read other people's words. I read about whispered secrets and summer love. I read about 3-year-olds playing in the sand and women floating in the water.

I watched seagulls tirelessly flap their wings, struggling to stay afloat (in the sky); and hawks sore effortlessly over the evergreen trees.

I felt teeny tiny bugs dance on my eyelashes and nuzzle my nose.

I laughed as the humans above me threw rocks into the water; and listened to the thunk, knowing I was safe in my rock cave.

Today, I took big breathes of sea air, let raindrops soak into my skin, and brought myself back home.

Brought myself back to exactly where I belong.

I belong to the sea, to the tide, to the moon.

I belong to the rain that washes the entire day from my face, and brings curly life back into my hair.

I belong to the air thick with salt.

I belong to the wind, full of movement.

To the shelter of a rocky cave.

To the places I can pee without fear, while simultaneously making friends with crabs.

I belong to soaked journal pages and runny ink.

To sleeping under the stars.

To the open road.

To galloping down trails.

To a broken clock and time forgotten - reminded only by the sun in the sky.

I belong to Freedom.

I belong to Nature.

I belong to ME!

- 7/9/18

 

After I wrote those words in my red leather journal (the same journal that made it's away around most of Western Europe), I dove into the salt water as a train whistled by. I can't wait to share this part of my experience with you on Feminist Friday!

Every time I follow my call to nature, and to freedom, I realize it is exactly where I am meant to be. This clarity is unmatched. For I know, I belong.

And let me tell you... I can't wait to explore all the places in this big beautiful world that I belong to. 

With love,

Annalise

Gratitude

Dear Readers,

When I traveled through Europe I honed in on my gratitude practice! I wrote a gratitude list every day, and it was so easy, even on the days that were quite frankly, really shitty! When I truly live my life authentically and fully, I feel grateful.

This past weekend I escaped to the North Cascades. I took deep breathes of mountain air and walked a beautiful trail in silence; I painted a nature scene for the first time as I sat on the edge of Diablo lake. It was a trip full of beauty, challenges and overwhelming gratitude. And thus, right before I hopped in Gypsy and headed back home I wrote a gratitude list and I would like to share it with you.

6/3/18- I am grateful for:

  1. Grandpa Alex being here with me in spirit
  2. Solo Van trips
  3. Roaring rivers
  4. RAIN!!!
  5. Time to miss and appreciate my partner
  6. Painting at the lake
  7. Wind! Mother nature's power
  8. Campground parking lots to sleep in
  9. Bob Marley
  10. Alone time
  11. Silent hikes
  12. A brain overflowing with writing ideas
  13. An inability to actually write anything more than a list
  14. Gypsy-Rita
  15. Well timed escapes from park rangers
  16. Mountain air
  17. My Tevas - low key the loves of my life 
  18. My trusty flannel 
  19. Down comforters 
  20. Getting dressed lying down 
  21. Hidden backpacking camp sites
  22. Empty beaches
  23. Practice and perpective
  24. Fear
  25. Sadness
  26. Desire

That's my list! Gratitude came so easily to me this past weekend! May we all live in ways that inspire gratitude, even in the hardest moments!

I aspire to live authentically, to wander, to do what I truly love, so that no matter what I will always feel overwhelmingly grateful to be right where I am!

May you do the same - in whatever way is most true to you!

With love,

Annalise

On Fear and Unpaved Paths

Dear Reader,

One week ago I sat at a local Bellingham beach on my lunch break, with my toes buried in the sand and my head buried in my hands.

My body was sore.

My stress levels were sky high.

And my connection to nature and our earth was at an all time low.

This was the first time all week I had actually felt present in my body. After continuous 50 hour work weeks stuck behind a desk, I was starting to feel like I was wasting away. But in this moment, I was finally able to breath in life again.

So, I asked myself...

When do you feel most alive? 

And this is what I came up with:

  1. I feel alive when I am in nature
  2. I feel alive when I am moving, especially dancing!
  3. I feel alive when I am connected to my body
  4. I feel alive when my body is connected to the earth

So then, I started thinking about all the times in my life - present and past - that I've turned away from feeling alive and walked back into the ease of convention, routine and structure (it's worth mentioning that as I attempted to type "routine" I started typing "torture" talk about a Freudian slip).

Recently I chose a job because it was clear and straightforward. Convenient. Consistent. Practical.

In college, I chose to pursue a degree in teaching (which by the way, didn't pan out because it was never truly what I wanted, instead I graduated with a BA in English Lit). I initially chose this degree because it was CLEAR. The path was paved. Go to school. Do you practicum/student teaching. Graduate. Apply for jobs. Work. Follow curriculum.

But those decisions and the many others I've made, simply because the paths were paved, were not fueled by the question: "What makes you feel alive?"

They were fueled by my fear.

My fear of having to walk or worse yet, create my own path. Of things not being laid out for me. No steps to follow. Directions to read. Or warnings to heed.

But the things that make me feel alive are not clear and structured. Not paved and simple. The things that make me feel alive are WILD!

- Ecstatic and Open Floor Dance

- Hiking up Mountains 

- Rolling around in the sand

- Diving into the ocean

- Spending my birthday's in lands I do not call home

- Writing a blog of my own, where I make the rules

- Living out of a van

- Sinking my feet into the dirt

But how the hell am I supposed to base my life around the unstructured, the wild, the free?

And suddenly, with my feet moving through the sand on the beach, it hit me. Humans have not always had paved paths.

We created clear paths by plowing through nature, chopping down trees, killing the wild world.

But left untamed, nature has no clear paths.

We made this world ruly, when it is meant to be wild.

Just as I am meant to be!

So here's what I decided: it's time to let go of my fear of unpaved paths. To live freely, as is the natural way. 

The time has come to take a chance. To walk boldly into the untamed wild, on a path that is not paved, nor clear of obstacles. Rather a path that I create by ducking under branches - as not to disturb them - follow rushing rivers, and learn from the wild animals.

Following my fear down clear, paved paths has never served me. So here's to letting it go!

Here's to:

- Writing my blog

- To living in my van

- To teaching open floor

- To connecting with my body and this earth

And mostly, to feeling alive 100% of the time instead of just 10%. Fear can go suck it, because it's time to LIVE!

With love and light (some sass, and lots of gratitude too),

Annalise

Connection and Fear

Dear Reader,

This weeks post is a teaser for my 5/9 Wandering Wednesday post - I am super jazzed about it so stay tuned.

This post is quite a bit shorter. However, both posts are about allowing our fear of the wild stop us. More importantly, they are both about how we can embrace this untamed world and connect deeply with it. I also must mention, both were written while my feet sunk into the beautiful earth we live on (my absolute favorite way to write, and exist)! 

So anyway, here are a few words about fear and connection. May they resonate with you, inspire you to set your fear free and allow your soul to connect with all the other wild wonders of our world...

Today, as I sat on the dirt, eating grapes, an ant crawled into my Tupperware to share my snack. I smiled at the ant sweetly, and spoke to him calling him "Buddy" as I thought about how interconnected we all are.

I did not attempt to remove him, push him away, or scold him for being a pest. Instead I enjoyed the snack we shared together; two wanderers enjoying one another's company.

Moments later, a bee buzzed around my head. I shivered, shook my head from side to side, hoping to scare the bee away; for I was scared of her. 

But then I thought, why do I fear some living beings and not others? There is so little logic. Both creatures are different from me, unique and powerful. Both creatures also share my wild spirit, and are wandering just as they have every right to. 

So what if I just let go of my fear? Stopped fearing things I didn't understand, or I was taught as a I child to fear? How free would I be? How connected to the wild wandering ways of nature would I become? My guess..PRETTY DAMN CONNECTED and BLISSFUL! 

So here's to letting go of our fear of the wild and unknown, and connecting with those who may be different or unknown but beautiful all the same!

Cheers my loves!

I can't wait to share more on this next week!

Sending out sunny vibrations to you all,

Annalise