going downhill and getting downhill

My path, uniquely mine, predetermined to include curves, with varying elevations and odd sized obstacles. It has left me with physical scars—internal scars that surfaced for weeks and sometimes years. Growing up, people told me that scars were not pretty. As a lover of the outdoors and a true participant of gravitational forces, I felt confused, until one day I realized they were just projecting their fear on me.

fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone/something
is dangerous/scary, likely to cause pain/discomfort, or a threat.

I decided that fear would keep me from being curious, from exploration, and, therefore, would alter my potent for new aspects of happiness and level of obtainable joy. If I could break the patterns of things that used to provoke fear, then my thought was I could be detached from fear. This emotional response is highly individualized, so what I did next may not be the stimulus you need.

I wouldn’t have said yes to downhill mountain biking. I have no reason to downhill mountain bike. I have never mountain biked, or skied, or even like going downhill on a straight, perfectly paved road on a bike with good brakes, but people do this all the time, with enjoyment, and I would be sharing my experience with Tigermom (aka Lisa Lov).

How I came to say yes, in the days prior:

One weeks prior, after a chat about hair with the Creative Director of a hair salon in Toronto, it dawned on me that hair holds the DNA of our past; so, over a bathroom sink, moments after waking up, with inexperienced hair cutting fingers, I cut the past into a trashcan, giving it no choice but to leave my being. With each movement of my fingers, a wave of empowerment rushed through my veins. The blockage of fear began to leave my body.

Two nights prior, Tigermom, the other craziest gals, and I practiced our meditative breathing exercises before we jumped into 8 Celsius lake water. The sun was out. We were in Sweden. Why wouldn’t we jump in the lake? What’s the worst that could happen? We already knew we would be cold, so jumping into the lake would just confirm this fact.

One hour prior, Tigermom asked if I was scared. My response: I’m not thinking about being scared until we get on the mountain. I couldn’t be bothered to replace the awe of Sweden’s beauty with the fear of something I committed myself do.

Protected in full gear, I watched with laser focus the art of getting on a ski lift with an awkwardly heavy bike, and I thought to myself, what’s the worse that can happen? I fall a lot and eventually get to the bottom? I was certain all those things would happen. To not let fear take over me after I fell the first and uncountable last time, I found that focusing on my breath caused my heart rate and blood pressure to stay stable.

There’s a memory that Lisa and I will share, when I went over the handlebars and landed spread eagle with the bike landing on me, perfectly sandwiching my head under the frame’s triangular core. As the weight of the bike holds me down long enough for me to collect my thoughts, I thought to myself, I should ask her to photograph me. Ironically, Tigermom was thinking the same thing. Unfortunately, neither of us said what we were thinking, so there is no proof it happened. All I could do was laugh at how ridiculous I probably looked. I made a trailer of memories if you need a minute of thrill.

I got up.

The uncanny, calm-as-fuck innerself thought: Fuck it. Let’s keep going. What other choice do we have?

(Note to downhill newbies, it’s not a good idea to hit the brakes fully when in the process of going downhill.)

i feel free.

i am free.

tomorrow i am also free.

My Danish home 

I’m in love with this city.

I’ve decided the way to travel is to travel to the same places, experiencing them as a new human, learning from the evolution of not only that city, but as being human yourself.

This city, for me, is Copenhagen.

When I first discovered Copenhagen, it was the dead of winter of the year 2010. I had never known a white Christmas. My lovely friend Iris, who any day now will have a baby, taught me what hospitality meant. She welcomed me to her parents home in Jutland for Christmas, and her father could not fathom a visitor without a beer in hand at all times. I can never forget this memory.

Now, on my fourth trip to Copenhagen, it has been decided that I am part Danish, and that this IS my second home. How often do you visit a city where your name is called out while riding a bike? Or that you appear at a wine bar only to be greeted by people you know. Or to be invited into a home to be cooked a meal by Cambodian parents. Or to chase a beer with a negroni. Or to drink milk straight from the holding tank. Or to wear the shoes you left here on your last visit?

Challenge to visit a place more than once. More than twice. More times that you can count. Expand and contract with it. Learn about the people and culture and the people that visit. Be a regular—have a place to call home. The world—it is smaller than we think— it is for exploring deeply the things we do not know (yet).

This time I leave behind one of my first ceramic pots, some hair, some ideas about conserving water on a farm, and promises to be back within a year.

I came to Copenhagen this time to celebrate a 30th birthday and an almost new Danish life. I have yet to decompress from the experiences here, but I know I will never forget it.

I feel so alive.

(This excerpt of my visit was written after cutting my own hair, being a natural chauffeur on a GoBoat, biking with my hair down like I own this town, a natural wine tasting of countless bottles of Danish, French, and American wines, a homemade meal of roasted chicken, risotto of chicken hearts, wheel of cheese, and Danish melon, followed by chasing a beer with a negroni, and biking home under the moonlit Danish summer night.)

spending the 4th not here (but there)

I flew over 12 hours so I could lay next to a friend and stay up way too early into the morning talking about love, life, and living in a new decade. There’s always so much to catch up on. There is no substitution for physical exchanges in words.

This is my second summer to spend the 4th away from my US home. Copenhagen, over the years, has become a second home to me. I cultivated my first Danish friendships over 6 years ago. We have shared our cycles of love, heartache, living as foreigners, and healing over the quickly evolving technology.

the pause in falling

Over the past years, I have become the student of the artfully falling, with physical scars to show for it. If you didn’t believe in gravity, I could convince you otherwise. I thought my tattoos would be a unique identifier, but I found the unvisible scars much more unreplicable and hold a deeper beauty.

The more often I fell, the less often I cursed what could be seen as a misfortune, and the more resilient I became. Getting up became a muscle memory. Now when I fall, I acknowledge the pause in my life, inhale and exhale into the experience, and practice softly lifting myself up. The measure of time melts away during the healing process. It just goes as it goes, flows like seaweed riding the vastness of waves. (Sometimes the flow cramps my style.)