Monday, September 10, 2018

Saturn Return

28 Laps Around the Sun

It's funny that I was feeling the desire to finally let the larger online community know a bit about what has been going on in my life. Until Saturday I felt as though I had turned the cusp and was perhaps on the downhill after a year of crazy— and then I got rocked (along with my close friends) by a hard, but necessary visit to Imp Peak - the site of our dear friend Inge's accident on October 9, 2017. As I sit writing this on July 23, 2018 I feel like a big wound has been ripped back open, and it needs to once again heal. Then again, perhaps I never dealt with it in the first place. 

I recognize that my challenges this year are trivial compared to those who live in third world countries. I know where to find my next meal, and that I will have a roof over my head, even in the worst scenario. Yet, within my sheltered world of white priviledge I have been completely rocked.

It feels as though my life has done a 180 degree turn. I moved back to Bozeman after living in a remote mountain town of less than 100 people for over 4 years. I ended a relationship of 4+ years. I gave up freelancing and got a full time job. I'm craving social experiences and community instead of solitude and mountains. I would rather sit at a computer than stand in avalanche terrain.

...and we lost Inge. 

Two days after Inge died I had to leave for a field season working in the Arctic. I somehow packed my bags and departed in a zombie state. The entire fall I was pretty much in survival mode— wake up, do necessary work, sleep, repeat. I am fortunate to have some really great friends and coworkers who supported me through two very difficult months. 

After a long field season a friend scooped me up and took me to the desert where I was finally able to do some healing. I mostly slept in late and drank rounds of coffee for entire mornings, but we did climb three towers. I hadn't climbed much for the last 5 years, and I felt that Inge would have been proud of me for dancing up towers in the desert. The second tower we climbed was Castleton, an iconic feature of the southwest. After squirming and grunting up an akward offwidth we gained the summit block, and there in the register was a picture of Hayden & Inge. Aparently others were also finding solice & healing in the desert. The last tower we climbed was Ancient Art. After observing a que of many parties we decided to nap away the midday heat and climb it under the full moon. I was shaking as I began following the first pitch. I felt clumsy and out of balance. I wasn't sure how to use my feet and hands. I wanted to bail. I didn't have the emotional strength for challenging experiences. And then I started hearing Inge whispering in my ear. She was cracking jokes and telling my I was being silly, that this was incredible, that I needed to trust the rope and focus on being light on my feet and keep moving. I stooped on the belay ledge and cried. Then wiped my tears, and said, "lets keep going." I stood for a moment on the narrow summit, then sat, and crumbled a handful of lavender from her memorial into my hands pausing for a moment before blowing it into the abyss below. 

It's been a big transition. In the midst of it all a friend told me, "Of course you are going through all this change, it's your Saturn Return!" 
"This is the astrological period of our life when the planet Saturn completes its orbit around the Sun, coinciding with the time of our birth. It happens every 29.5 years, so if you have skated by in your late 20s, this period could get you in your late 50s. Now’s the time to get prepared!We often feel the rumblings of this orbital transition a few years before it begins — prior to the big 3-0 or the big 6-0. This time is, in essence, a metaphorical rebirth. But what does this actually mean? Careers will take off — or completely flop. We will meet the love of our life — or bolt from the partner we thought would be our happily ever after. The pressure can feel insurmountable. If you are in it, take a deep breath, because your so-called “quarter-life crisis” could just be part of growing up." Read more...  
It is now early September and I'm just posting this. I'm living in Bozeman, surrounded by friends and community, leaning on them as I shift into the next phase. I've always been fiercely independent and it's really difficult for me to accept and welcome support.

I started working full time at Polar Bears International after contracting and working part time with them for years. It's so good. Like that deep good, that you weren't ready for before but now it just feels right.  It has given me some peace to pour my creative energy into something else - something other than skiing - something rooted in nature - and something bigger than myself. I like that I go to the office instead of into avalanche terrain everyday. It's what I need right now.

I still love skiing. I will always love skiing. I need a break from skiing right now. I'm not sure if I will ski much this winter, or for the next few. I need to let that part of myself go and only ski when I want to. I'm afraid if I don't listen to that feeling I might not ever come back to it. I have a lot of anxiety in the mountains right now, be it skiing or climbing. Exposure and risk cause me an unhealthy amount of stress. So I am recognizing those feeling, acknowledging them, and letting them be. I'm working on forgiving myself for putting so much pressure around my love and identity of being in the mountains.

If there is anything the last year has taught me it is that life is a big freaking journey, and no matter how much my type-A personality loves finish lines, and accomplishing goals, and checking boxes I have to go through the process. Right now I feel like I'm still thigh deep, but I know I will come out stronger and learn heaps along the way.

So, here's to embracing the mud and my Saturn return, and knowing that clearer waters will come again someday.

the woman who is re-finding & re-defining herself