If I could pick only one word to describe this past year it would be “transformative”. There have been so many changes for me this year, from small things like chopping off my hair and moving to a new apartment to slightly bigger things like adjusting to a car-less life and changing my name. Most significantly though was my kidney cancer diagnosis which made me face all sorts of things I didn’t expect such as end-of-life decisions, treatment options, and financial planning. I’m thankful for the time it gave me with my family who came to support me this summer as well as the added emphasis on the importance of the relationships I have with friends and family. Coupled with my commitment to a minimalist lifestyle, it was all a great reminder to slow down, enjoy each sunset, spend quality time with Cole, go for long walks, and live healthier. It was also an important reminder that our days are not guaranteed and why it’s so important to build our lives around what is most valuable to us. There’s just not enough time to waste any of our life on things or people that make us unhappy or pathways that don’t support our goals and values.
Photographically, this year, I challenged myself to try something new, portrait photography. First, with the Immigrant Story photo contest which my friend Victor was a great sport and let me take a lot of photos of him all over Portland. Then, again, with my 45 Reasons Why project which was inspired by our current political climate. It was heartwarming to work with so many kind people from the Portland-area who were willing to let me share their concerns with our current administration through an exhibition and on my website. I hope to continue the project over the next couple of years and look forward to seeing it all come together. I also revisited my Legacy project which I started last year and finally made some progress with my first participant’s story which I was recently asked to write a guest post about on the Childless by Marriage blog. This spring, I finally participated in the PDX Squared photo contest and found it a challenging and worthwhile learning experience. True to form, I donated to and attended ShelterCare’s annual Art Gives Hope benefit to support homelessness prevention programs. I also had a couple of photos published in Sierra Club’s revised edition of 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests book that I volunteered to help with a couple of years ago by hiking some of the trails. I’ve continued to fine tune my website and made some good progress on my efforts to brand and build my photography legacy.
My cancer surgery took a lot of my adventure time away this year but I still managed to get out a bit. First, I visited Astoria and then stopped at Fort Stevens State Park afterward to say hello once again to the Peter Iredale shipwreck and catch a spectacular sunset. I finally made it to the Tulip Festival for the first time with a friend one rainy and muddy Sunday afternoon in April. I spent Memorial Day hiking in Forest Park with a small group of friends and our dogs. Right before my surgery, I made a trip to the coast to explore one of Oregon’s newest natural areas at Sitka Sedge and then wandered over to one of my favorite spots on the northern Oregon coast, Ecola State Park, for a particularly memorable sunset and moonrise. After I regained more significant mobility after my surgery, shortly before returning to work, a friend took me out to the coast yet again, this time to Ona Beach at Brian Booth State Park and then Seal Rock to watch the birds for a while. This fall, living in the Slabtown neighborhood, it was really easy to wander over to Chapman Elementary to watch the Swifts once again tuck themselves in for the night during their migration. I also managed to get to the Portland Japanese Garden and catch some of the magnificent fall colors of the famous Japanese Maple trees that live there. Lastly, I did one significant road trip to Spokane for a concert and checked “explore Lake Coeur d’Alene” off my bucket list while I was at it. On the way back to Portland, I also visited Steptoe Butte and Palouse Falls State Parks in eastern Washington.
When I wasn’t laid up from my surgery, out exploring in nature, cooking some sort of fantastic meal, hanging out with Cole, or reading some sort of minimalist or travel article, I filled my time with plays, concerts, art exhibits, film festivals, and movies. The highlights of which included seeing Hamilton at the Keller Auditorium, The Wood Brothers perform at the Crystal Ballroom, photographer Austin Granger speak at LightBox Photographic Gallery and Camerawork Gallery, the Banff Mountain Film Festival both in Portland at Cinema 21 and in Spokane at the Bing Crosby Theater, and Bohemian Rhapsody twice at the Living Room Theater.
2018 has been quite the year and I sense something big is on the horizon for Cole and me in 2019. I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds for us and although I don’t know what to expect for sure, I suspect it will entail travels to new places, more quality time with family, reconnecting with old friends, collaborations with other creative types, the pursuit of an entrepreneurial endeavor, more adventures with Cole, and a continued dedication to a minimalist lifestyle which is the core value that allows me to focus on what truly matters most in my life. Thank you so much for following along this past year. May your new year be full of health, happiness, friends, family, learning, and lots and lots of adventures!!!