I was reading a Reddit thread today with an incredible quote from a Redditor:
“You are a precious resource.”
The word “resource” sums up, so perfectly, all the energy, passion and time we have on this planet. That line inspired this post and this slight rephrasing: You are not a renewable resource.
By energy, I mean the amount of physical and emotional energy you possess. By time, I literally mean the amount of time you have, each day. By passion, I mean what it is that gives you motion, what illuminates you. That’s different for everyone.
It’s the warmth that washes over my best friend Elizabeth’s face when she’s holding a paintbrush, the fervor to which Mike plays his keyboard. It’s the lightness, the fire that shoots through me when I realize I have summed up a seemingly indescribable feeling with a few short, simple words.
All of those elements combined, time, energy and passion, make up the pure essence of who you are and what you want to become. That’s why I’m so wary of wasting them. I know what can happen if I don’t appreciate their worth.
For a lot of people, life happens. You find yourself sacrificing what’s important for what’s easy and available. There’s this pressure to make choices, decisions, and to make them as quickly as possible. There’s expectations preset by society, family and friends. Can’t decide what you want to be for the rest of your life?
Ok, boom – you’re an accountant.
Numbers are okay, you’re good with them, and you like the form they take when they’re stamped on a check with your name on it. It’s a decision, and it’s good enough. It will bring you enough happiness, enough well-being, and enough comfort to get you by.
If you’re not careful, that one decision, that comfort begins to shape and define your life. It determines where you live, who your friends become, who you become. That comfort flows and fills the cracks of your uncertainty, and massages your weaknesses.
Before you know it, that accountant, who settled in one defining area of his life, finds himself settling for other seemingly insignificant things. They seem like small, unimportant choices – what he orders for lunch or which shirt he chooses to button up in the morning. But those little “meh” things, those small mediocre choices reinforce a part of you that starts to embrace being comfortable, no matter who that turns you into.
Your precious resources – your energy, your passion, and your time, begin to be allocated to other areas of your life. Your energy to your career, your passion to the comfortable indulgences you need to balance that career, and your time to both. It’s a simple path to follow, one less treacherous and challenging than fulfilling a dream.
Choosing the other path is difficult, because of how easy it is to go off course. A huge misconception is that if you love something enough, you’ll do it. We believe that if we want something enough, our time, energy and passion will be limitless.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is, if you want something enough, you need to work for it. There will be days where you’ll have to make time, muster energy, or force passion. You’ll waver; wonder if it’s really what you’re meant for.
Those are the times where you’ll need to believe in it the most.
You can’t just want it when it’s easy. You need to learn to want it when it’s difficult. Many times, it’ll be even more difficult because the rest of your world will be simple and comfortable. It will be easy, a relief, to give up.
The naysayers, the practical people in your life will support the surrender. Perhaps they have given up on dreams of their own, or perhaps the complacency of their lives was too satisfying or too comfortable, to sacrifice. It’s understandable, but you’ll need to remind yourself of their influences when you ask for their guidance.
You need anticipate that during the most challenging times, you’ll need to be prepared with your vision. You’ll need reminders to reinforce that belief in yourself. You’ll need to surround yourself with people who build you up, and if you don’t have any, you’ll need to go it alone.
These are hurdles you need to jump.
I like to imagine my life as a tapestry. The threads are the small, seemingly insignificant choices, good or bad. They’re the people I have in my life, the places I’ve gone. The patterns, the weaves are the result of those resources. So far, my most vibrant and wonderful weave is Iceland, a stripe bursting with color and definition.
It sounds cheesy, but I know that no one will have the confidence and vision in my tapestry as I will. Only I can anticipate and visualize the design, only I can sew the limited amount of thread. After time, my resources will start to deplete, and I’ll either be closer, or further away from myself.
I came across a Reddit post about fire lookouts in r/camping – you know, the buildings the U.S. Forest Service utilize to watch for forest fires.
Color me intrigued.
Turns out, not all of them are still in service, but you can actually rent them out. The idea really pumped me up – nothing seems more peaceful than feeling on top of the world, under a blanket of stars. Also, the rentals are located in the most beautiful National Parks in the country. I’m all for alternative travel (obviously), and I have nothing better to do, so I went through all of them.
If you love being outdoors, and don’t mind an occasional bear encounter, check out my selections of the most appealing fire lookouts for rent (in my opinion). You can access the full list of fire lookouts on firelookout.org.
#1 – Arid Peak Lookout
Arid Peak, located in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest with views of the Bitterroot Mountains. If you love heights, aren’t afraid of bears, and willing to hike 3 miles to access it, the Arid Peak lookout seems to be an outdoor lover’s utopia. I checked out an album of Arid Peak Lookout photos that a Flickr user called Alexandra Taco (love it) shot while she was there, and they are incredible (the one I featured is hers).
Rental Info: Idaho Panhandle National Forests Headquarters, (208) 765-7233, $25/night
#2 – Bear Basin Lookout Cabin
The Bear Basin Lookout and Cabin caught my attention because of the breathtaking views of the Siskiyou Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The area is ideal for horseback riding and bird watching, if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s a part of the Six Rivers National Forest, on top of the Bear Basin Butte. The photo above obviously doesn’t reflect modern day, but I still thought it was cool. Here’s a modern one I found on Flickr, a part of an awesome album posted by a traveler in 2008 (ChrisD2006).
Rental Info: The Bear Basin Lookout and Cabin, (707)457-3131, $75/night.
#3 – Indian Ridge Lookout
Blue River, Oregon
I’ll be honest, I added the Indian Ridge Lookout because it was the only listing that mentioned berry-picking. Located in the Williamette National Forest, Indian Ridge offers views of Three Sisters and Cascade Crest.
There’s also some incredible photostreams on Flickr that have better pictures of the actual cabin:
- LuckyPlanet’s Photos of Indian Ridge
- NeitherHipNorFunky’s Trip to Indian Ridge
- Drive By Shooter’s Snaps of Indian Ridge
The Dee Wright Observatory is only a drive away, which the other main appeal of Indian Ridge – the observatory is made entirely of lava stove.
Rental Info: Willamette National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 541.225.6300, $55/night.
#4 – Acker Rock Lookout
The Acker Rock Lookout, a part of the Umpqua National Forest, is still used to detect forest fires. The remote cabin (which seems like one of the nicer ones, just by pictures) has views of the South Umpqua watershed. It takes a steep 0.5-mile hike to get there, but it offers an abundance of hiking trails, opportunities for fishing, and spectacular photo ops.
This one is probably my favorite. Here’s a few albums from Flickr users (all rights reserved on these, so I can’t post the pictures here):
- Erik Martin’s trip to Acker Rock Lookout
- ebroskie1234′s pictures from Acker Rock Lookout
- Musgrove and Yogi’s awesome Acker Rock lookout pictures
Rental Info: Tiller Ranger District, 541-825-3201, $40/night.
#5 – Hirz Mountain Lookout
The Hirz Mountain Lookout, in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California, sits on top Hirz Mountain at an elevation of 3,540 feet.
::Pause for quick: I wanna go. I really wanna gooooooo!::
Anyway, Hirz Mountain, was held in high esteem by the McCloud River Wintu tribe and has staggering views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen (the photo I featured literally made me gasp. For more, check out TruckerChris’s photostream on Flickr). The lookout is only accessible with a high clearance vehicle and a 1/4 mile on foot. If you’re not afraid of rattlesnakes and bears, some appealing activities include mountain biking, hunting, and hiking.
Rental Info: Shasta-Trinity National Forest Headquarters, (530) 226-2500, $75/night
#6 – Cougar Peak
Thompson Falls, Montana
Cougar Peak Lookout, (within the Lolo National Forest in Montana) is a small space and isn’t lifted, but has amazing views of the Cabinet Mountains and the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. The surrounding area has an impressive amount of wildlife varieties, such as goats, elk, grizzly and black bears, swans, and herons (The usda.gov website seems intent on making sure visitors understand the real possibility of encountering a bear here). There are also a lot of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Rick Landry, a Flickr user that visited Cougar Peak, took really great pictures of the Cougar Peak lookout interior.
Rental Info: Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 406-329-3750, $30/night
#7 – Clear Lake Cabin Lookout
Clackamas County, Oregon
Ready for this, snow bunnies? Clear Lake Cabin Lookout, located on the Clear Lake Butte of Mt. Hood in Oregon is only accessible by snowmobiling, snowshoeing or skiing. Awesome, although the last time I was on skiis, I seriously hurt someone – not intentionally, I was only in third grade, but despite a pair of skiis from Santa one year, I haven’t tried again since.
Anyway, by appearances, Clear Lake looks like the perfect place to curl up and read some Robert Frost. Located near the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, the cabin offers views of Clear Lake, as well as endless snow kissed forests. There’s even a pulley system that enables you to lug supplies up the tower. Another travel blog, Loomis Adventures, actually went and wrote a blog post about snowshoeing to Clear Lake Cabin Lookout. It provides additional photos and obviously, a personal experience.
Rental Info: Cougar Peak Lookout, (406) 826-3821, $30/night.
Did I miss any? Which fire lookouts would you want to visit?
I’ve told and retold the story of Melissa’s 100…. well, about a hundred times. But I’ll do it one more time, in the interest of this post. I made a list of things to do while my ex was deployed, some more impressive than others. I worked my way through it, and by the end of my journey, had met Sophia Bush, gotten Denis Leary’s autograph, cooked with a professional chef, and went indoor skydiving. I felt like a boss.
Since then, I’ve been a believer two things:
-Asking for what you want.
First, I’ll tackle asking for what you want. When I decided it was *time* to go to Iceland, it took me two weeks to make it happen. I emailed about twenty people, mainly in the travel industry, and just asked for what I wanted. It only took one yes. Same goes for the first Melissa’s 100. I asked Sophia Bush directly for her help, and within an hour, I had a yes. I’m not promising this will always work, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Dig it?
So now, lists. I’m not talking grocery lists. I’m talking life lists. I’m talking about writing out EVERYTHING you want out of your life. I don’t recommend posting it up for the world to see, but I can tell you this: I truly believe that if you put out what you want into the Universe, to God, it/he will deliver it to you (with exceptions, of course).
It goes along with similar strategies – you remember that book, The Secret, and the vision board trend that was happening for awhile. It’s all about envisioning your future and sending out positive vibes. Don’t believe me? Let’s ask a pro.
Jim Carrey, to be exact.
Jim Carrey is one of my all-time favorite actors – and a delightful and hilarious. Have you seen his website?! The guy is nutty and wonderful and I love him for it. He recently did a commencement speech at Maharishi University where he specifically talked about asking the Universe for things.
“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality,” Carrey said. “What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it.”
I can’t tell you how long I hoped, in my heart, that I would go to Iceland. I put it on multiple life lists. I told myself, believed in that truth – I will go to Iceland. I will work for a travel company. I will create this future.
And I did, seemingly, out of thin air. All I had to do was make a list, and ask.
So this is my challenge to you, driftees. Make a list. Do it now. After you’re done, ask for the things on that list. Believe that you deserve them. I hope that doesn’t sound hopelessly naive, but in my experience, even if you get a “no”, you’ve put it out there: this is what I want, and I’ll do anything to get it.
Take it from a girl that has always gotten what she’s truly, honestly wanted.
After my trip to Europe, a lot of people asked how I could afford it. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap. Being frugal was a challenge day after day, and although Mike and I tackled it the best we could, there were days we were completely broke.
Luckily, between the two of us, we had money from selling both of our cars, as well as pay from remote work. But traveling for long periods of time isn’t cheap. That’s why websites such as trustedhousesitters.com (which I used), Airbnb (which we both used), and Workaway (have yet to use) are becoming really popular.
Workaway fascinates me. A man that I requested a house-sitting gig from actually recommended it. He asked why I was traveling, and suggested that it was possibly to “find myself”. He said Workaway.info was a site that offered free accommodations all over the world, in exchange for daily work. The work varies, and can be anything from picking coffee beans to teaching English.
So if you’re looking for a way out, I’ve got your back.
I’ve compiled 11 escapes that only require an airline ticket to get there. Hosts are seeking volunteers for a variety of life-changing experiences. If you’re looking to find yourself, there’s no better place than some of these amazing locations:
Help Make Olive Oil in Italy
This olive farm, right outside of Perugia, seeks volunteers to pick olives and garden. You’ll stay at the family’s hotel for free, in exchange for five hours of work a day. When you’re not working, you can explore the local countryside (Umbria) and Trasimeno Lake is just 10 min away.
Work with Adventure Tours in Portugal
This family owned tourism company, located near Aljezur, hosts jeep, bike, and walking tours, as well as surfboard/wetsuit rentals. They host volunteers to assist with maintenance, some gardening and running the tours for five hours a day. In exchange, you can stay in the family’s caravan.
Cook for a Safari Camp Near Kilimanjaro
Experience Tanzania in a unique way. Lake Safari Camp offers free accommodation in exchange for working as the camp’s chef. Stay in a luxury tent in exchange for flexible work hours, and the opportunity to see wildlife and learn Swahili.
Teach English in Morocco
Help local children practice their English right in Casablanca. Volunteers are encouraged to talk to students about their personal experiences, so no teaching experience is required. Work for less than three hours a day, and spend the rest of your time eating local cuisine, experiencing the culture, and just exploring Morocco.
Work on a Coffee Farm in Hawaii
Experience Hawaii away from all of the tourist attractions. A small family coffee farm in Keauhou-Kona welcomes volunteers to help bake for farmers market, picking and processing coffee beans, as well as some light farm work. For 25 hours of work a week (with three guaranteed days off), you’ll stay in a cabin, exploring the Big Island.
Work at an Organic Farm in Turkey
Work at an educational center and ecological hotel in Turkey, less than two hours from Istanbul. Narköy is an organic farm that also hosts workshops and training. They look for volunteers to help with farm work, such as assisting making cheese, bread and butter, as well as gardening. Volunteers crash in tents, so it’s a little rustic, but in close proximity to the Black Sea. Work hours vary from 6-8 hours a day.
Work at a Canadian Mountain Lodge
If you love the outdoors, this workaway is perfect. Volunteer and stay at a lodge in the Great Bear Rainforest in remote Canada. They seek individuals experienced in tourism and gardening, who are invited to crash in one of their cabins in exchange to work five hours a day, five days a week. When you have time off, you can kayak, catch prawns, or go mountain biking.
Brew Beer & Make Music in France
Work for a small record label in France, and assist them in making an album. In addition to working with musicians, the hosts also have occasional household work, beer brewing, gardening, and playing with the family dog. Volunteers have varying hours, but get the chance to write and record music while exploring the South of France.
Work at a Juice Bar & Surf in Peru
Volunteer at a beach bar in La Libertad, Peru for 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. The perks include free Spanish and surfing lessons, rural fishing with traditional handmade reed boats, or “caballitos de totora”, and access to local historical attractions.
Be An AuPair, Sail the Medit
If you love to sail and have experience working with kids, this workaway was made for you. A family of four seeks an au pair to watch their two boys. The awesome part is it’s while you all sail the Mediterranean on their 35 ft. boat. The hours are flexible, and the volunteer will have ample time to explore the ports.
Train Huskies in Finland
Love dogs? Love the cold? Head to Finland and work with sled dogs! This family hosts sled dog safaris, snowmobile tours, and reindeer safaris, as well as owning a restaurant and renting out log cabins. Volunteers assist with household chores, but mainly work in exercising, training, and caring for the huskies. The volunteers stay in a cabin with a retired husky, Ivan, and have access to the sauna, in exchange for working 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
My brief hiatus from Driftyland (after changing it from Melissa’s 100) is over! Huzzah! I’m so happy, I’m doing mental cartwheels. I’d do them in the backyard, but I’m actually quite full of brownie.
I have a few stories lined up, but as always, I wanted my first post to share something directly from the heart. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself buried in work and stress, (with what feels like little time and too much time) to look forward. I’ve been pretty hard on myself, something that resulted in feeling pretty exhausted most of the time, as it seemed my stress levels, and my expectations for myself only grew larger.
Finally, I had an amazing moment of clarity. I had a ton of my mind, and took a short break to grab a burrito from Chipotle. I was standing in line, still letting thoughts whiz around my brain like an angry swarm of bees.
What seemed like divine intervention or heck, even just my subconscious refusing to be suppressed any longer, I heard a gentle, yet stern voice in my head say:
“Whatever you do, don’t lose yourself.”
It was such a perfect, fitting thought – it was like someone popped a balloon right next to my ear. I was startled, and then immediately felt relief.
I realized how I had allowed myself to over work my emotions by constantly stressing myself out. It was too much, and despite my ambition, my drive, I was letting it get to me. I was worrying about all sorts of ridiculous things I have no control over, and I was neglecting myself.
Most importantly, I wasn’t focusing on the things that matter the most to me.
I think I needed that little kick, that little voice to remind me that my dreams, my ideas matter. They matter to me, and if I don’t care about them more, no one else will. No one will ever care about your dreams as much as you do.
So I continue to let that resonate in me: My ideas matter. My dreams matter, as foolish or out of reach as they seem. I matter. I’m not perfect, but I deserve good, happy things.
While this post isn’t as long as mine normally are, I just wanted to share that. I wanted a positive, uplifting post right from the get go. So if you get anything from this, get this: you matter.
Your dreams and ideas matter. You’re not perfect, but you matter, and you deserve good, happy things.
And don’t forget that although you, ultimately, will care about your dreams more than anyone else, I will, too. If you’ve read my words and followed my adventures, rooted for me or just gave this blog the time of day, I’m here for you. No matter who you are, I’m rooting for you too. So despite how stressful and unexpected life can be, try not lose yourself in it.
Hello there, fellow wanderers!
I’ve talked about changing Melissa’s 100 for a long time now, and I’ve finally done it!
I’ve shared a lot of personal experiences with my readers, but I’ve decided to take a step back and start sharing more about the people I get to meet. I’ve encountered some incredibly creative, unique and innovative people over the past few years. I’ve seen some spectacular places and experienced unique cultures. I’m eager to share their stories.
So here it is – Driftyland.com!
My new direction celebrates the drifty, creative people and places of the world. This is for those who wander away from the everyday, the mundane, the typical in pursuit of their own dreams. This is to celebrate those who choose to rise above mediocrity, regardless of the challenges that follow. The people who are out finding themselves in this crazy world, the ones living alternative, yet blissful lives. The places that no one’s heard of, but can’t wait to be found.
I can’t wait to share those stories.
I’m excited to close the chapter that was Melissa’s 100, and take off to Driftyland. Thanks to everyone who has followed my journey so far (and thanks to Mike to doing some technical work to make the new name happen).
Stay tuned and enjoy the ride!
It’s a Saturday in Hollywood. And it’s sweltering out.
Roxanna has just dropped me off at what I think is PodShare – a modern, hostel snuggled into a seemingly untouched alley off Hollywood Blvd. Instead, I find a condominium building. I quickly realize my mistake and head a half a block up.
The hostel, which seems more like a very large and spacious apartment, is quiet. The Pods are cluttered with shoes, extra articles of clothing, and various toiletries, likely cast aside as guests rushed to get out to explore Hollywood.
On my last Sunday afternoon in L.A., Rox and I decided to hit up Venice Beach.
It was a few hours before I needed to be at the airport, and due to a really late night out, we both slept until noon. Neither one of us was in the mood for anything too adventurous, so Rox suggested we go have lunch in Venice Beach.
Since it was one the places I hadn’t been before, I eagerly agreed.
Just two days ago, I appeared at the end of a residential road in Portland. Feeling a bit like Dorothy in Oz, I thought, well, Mike, we’re not in Raleigh anymore. Then of course, remembered that Mike wasn’t there and also – talking to myself. Weird even in Oz.
Then, like a mirage (but not really, because she knew that I was on her street), my friend and former co-worker Sarah appeared as well. My long-standing promise to visit her in Portland was finally fulfilled.