Free Entrance Into Magnificent Zion? Yes, Please.

I’ve traveled about and visited National Parks all over this great country, but I’ve yet to find a place that captures my spirit quite like Zion National Park. From the breathtaking scenery as you drive into the charming town of Springdale to the magnificent views at the summit of Observation Point, nearly every sight is stunning throughout all four seasons. You can safely bet I’ll try to get anyone within earshot to take advantage of the National Park Service Free Days this year and visit this Southwest jewel or any other National Park close to you, for that matter.

 

I first visited Zion when I moved from Iowa to St. George, UT twenty years ago, and I still have yet to hit every trail in the park, such as canyoneering through The Subway and Mystery Canyon or backpacking overnight on the West Rim Trail. My first experience was in the Zion Canyon area, where I would snap photo after grainy photo on ancient 35mm or disposable cameras, hundreds of photos tucked neatly into boxes in my bedroom closet.

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Me and Zion, ages ago

The beauty of Zion is that it’s truly a park for everyone of all ages and shapes and sizes. I started my son on the Emerald Pools trails when he was four years old and sporting his CatDog trucker cap and kid fanny pack, and now I take my daughter along with me. Whether we wander down the easy, paved Pa’rus Trail and the Riverside Walk to the canyons of the Narrows or test her limits and hit the Upper Emerald Pool and Kayenta Trails, there is always something for the little ones to do. Plus, from the spring through the fall there is a shuttle system that takes you throughout the Zion Canyon. No trying to find parking spaces at each trailhead. Word to the wise: arrive early to find a parking space near the Visitor’s Center. This is one busy park.

For those more conditioned (and not afraid of heights), the views from Angel’s Landing and Observation Point are spectacular. Pack snacks and fill your water bottles at the free water filling stations in the park, then hit the canyons. Be sure to take a picture of the switchback system named Walter’s Wiggles as you make your way up to Angel’s Landing.

I could go on for hours about the activities available within the park. Biking, climbing, backpacking, canyoneering, river trips, wilderness hikes down the Narrows (which is phenomenal), Ranger-led activities for kids and adults, the list goes on. Instead, I’ll keep this short and sweet and leave you with some my pictures through different seasons in Zion.

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Go grab your gear, stuff it into your backpack, and get outside! While you’re at it, check out Cotopaxi, an outdoor company doing good for people and our environment

 

 

Week 1: Fail. Kind of.

First week of the year down. Let’s see how I’m doing on my goals because there’s nothing like sharing your failures with the world to hold yourself accountable.

1) Writing: I didn’t write as much as I planned, *however* I am writing every day. Still plotting a bit as well. Something is better than nothing. Or so I’ve heard. I started to revise “Deacon” and stopped because I couldn’t see the pages through my tears. It’s pretty bad.

Just kidding. It’s horrendous.

2) Health: I’ve been adjusting my eating habits over the past few weeks, so this past week was cake. And by cake, I mean easy. I didn’t eat cake. I did eat some chocolate. But that shit’s good for you, right? My workouts weren’t spot on, but I did walk 4x (plus being on my feet constantly at work) and nailed 1 strength session. Baby steps, because baby steps still burn calories. Meditation: good.

3) I don’t really have a third right now, aside from don’t lose my marbles at my new job. And I didn’t, so I suppose I succeeded there. Yay, me!

I did realize that I might have set my expectations for myself too high this past week. This is going to be an adjustment and I need to cut myself a wee bit of slack for another week or two until my mind/body is used to this sort of nonstop clinic action again. I altered my goals for the next two weeks, which doesn’t mess up my quarterly or yearly goals, so I’m good.

It’s all good, people.

Except Henry died yesterday.

 

Peace out, our happy, friendly, weird little fish. We’ll miss you.

Did you already fail at some of your goals/resolutions for the New Year as well? (Please say yes so I don’t feel alone. So, so alone…)

 

 

Creative Purpose

Drive your day with your vision and goals.

I can’t recall where I first read that sentence, but I came across it again recently, scribbled on the back of an old screenplay scene notecard, and it struck a chord with me.

I was on a jog the other morning and noticed an ant interstate cutting through the desert scrub in an empty lot a block from my house. Endless rows of large red ants scurried to and fro on a path they created, driven by their own ant needs, and they moved with such determination that I was mesmerized and watched them for about ten minutes before going on about my merry, sweaty way.

I realized that they possessed that which I had been missing in my life for a long time: Purpose.

I needed to create clear goals and meaningful purpose for my creative life again. Strike that. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and created a solid plan for my creative endeavors. I’ve formulated plans and checklists for moving a thousand miles away, finding jobs, losing weight, and traveling, but I’ve been more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of person when it comes to creative projects. You can see how well that’s worked for me.

I’m not quite sure why I’ve had an aversion toward creative planning. I adore planning in general, so one would think I would be naturally inclined to sit down and create checklists for writing projects. Nope. Not even close. Perhaps somewhere deep down I connected creativity with spontaneity. Maybe in my younger years the creative process flowed effortlessly, thus I assumed planning would block the stream. I honestly don’t know.

However, I do now know this: creative life planning is fun. I am giddy all over the place as I sketch out mind maps for ideas. I can’t wipe the smile off my face as I sit down to create my outlines and checklists for creative projects. I don’t know exactly why and how it finally clicked for me. I’m taking an online screenwriting course, so perhaps it was a random suggestion by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin. I started writing in my Dreambook and Planner and I’ve been jotting stuff into my journal again, so I could be unearthing and releasing mental junk that’s been holding me back. I found (and subsequently read) pdf files of the books The 8-Minute Writing Habit and Write Better, Faster  by Monica Leonelle stored in a writing file on my laptop, free gifts for signing up at Goodriter quite some time ago. Excellent suggestions in both. I came across Rachel Aaron’s blog, which has a ton of great writing ideas as well. I have a writing desk and a new chair set up in my home and I love how it feels. It’s so comfortable and cozy, and I now enjoy sitting and writing.

I also decided to actually do something with my Beachbody coaching instead of just using it for my discount (which is awesome, I will admit) because health, fitness, and mental and emotional well-being are a vital part of my life. When I feel healthier, I feel happier. Stronger. I have greater drive and determination. I decided that I will start sharing my own health/fitness/well-being journey because everyone can relate to the ups and downs, especially writers who tend to isolate themselves and sit on their tushes for far too long every day.

I’m creating a vision of what I want for my creative life and I’m actively planning to make the vision my reality. Everything that could possibly help me on my journey is materializing before my eyes. Of course, most of the guides have been there all along; it’s only now I’m truly open and ready to work for the creative life, thus I see the direction. I see the paths I can take to make my dream come alive, and instead of permanently freezing due to the fear of taking the wrong path (thus doing nothing at all), I’m forging ahead. I’ll adjust my trajectory and create new plans as needed. There is always a way.

I don’t know why it’s taken half of my life for this to click for me, but the puzzle pieces are finally falling into place. I feel inspired, but most importantly I feel inspired to put a plan into place for the days when the muse fails to whisper in my ear. I’m excited to share this journey.

Let the creative life finally begin.

There is a truth and it’s on our side
Dawn is coming
Open your eyes
Look into the sun as the new days rise

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Not too shabby of a morning view in my backyard, eh? 

Do you “wing it” with your creative goals or are you a creative planner?