Hello friends and family near and far.  Thanks so much for reading!  I’ve always felt like personal blogs are inherently boring and self-aggrandizing so I’ll do my best to not be either of those, and  to keep posts short and photo-heavy.

So, after four incredible years of calling Portland “home,” I’ve decided to uproot and see where the universe takes me.  My hope is to spend the next year or so backpacking internationally, focusing on volunteer opportunities and authentic cultural experiences as well as outdoor adventures.

It’s tough to convey how difficult the decision has been to leave my life in Portland behind.  Back when I had the idea to travel a few months ago it felt surreal- it would never actually happen.  I’ve been on a pretty straightforward trajectory my whole life that has been school directly to Jesuit Volunteer Corps NW which morphed into my current job of four years working with the homeless population at JOIN.  JOIN has been so much more than a job.  Heck, I was a full-time volunteer there for two of those years.  The genuine, compassionate focus we have on empowering marginalized individuals through authentic relationships has shaped me as a human.  I’ve learned so much from my amazing coworkers and homeless folks, and doing the hard work in the trenches of urban poverty has allowed me to mature and learn more than I could have doing anything else since college.  I could go on, but I’ll leave it at the fact that giving my notice yesterday was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.  The next month and a half of saying goodbye to the friends on my list of formerly homeless people I work with will be incredibly painful.

In addition to a fantastic job, I’m also leaving an amazing community of close friends.  I feel so fortunate to never have experienced the isolation that often comes with being a 20-something in a new city.  My friends from JVC NW, roommates, climbing, Mazamas, etc. have been my anchor and I love the feeling of being supported and having so many wonderful people around with whom I feel comfortable being my real, filter-less self.  I’m a complete idiot to leave all of these wonderful connections, but I know that it’s not forever and that we will definitely stay in touch.  When I think about the reality of leaving it’s hard to keep from crying.  It’s terrifying and sad.  At the same time though, I realize that if I didn’t feel that sadness it would invalidate the past few years as not meaning enough to have affected me in that way.  I never feel far from my family, and I know that I’ll probably stay in touch as well with them while traveling as I currently do.  I’m so ridiculously grateful for their unconditional support and safety net.

I’m not “running away” from anything by leaving.  There is nothing negative in my Portland life that would ‘push’ me out of this lifestyle.  I needed this major ‘pull’ of travel and eventual grad school to motivate me to depart from a life that is completely comfortable, fulfilling and fun.  I am beginning to feel the fringes of being burnt out at work and my folks deserve to have me at my best, least-jaded self.  I know that I can effect more positive social justice change if I have the skills and knowledge that come with having a Master’s degree.  And in the meantime, I crave the instability and adventure that come with solo backpacking.  This is a bit tough to broadcast to the world, but a big motivation for me to actually pull the trigger was having had two separate, minor health related scares in the past few months.  I realized that in both instances, my first thoughts were, “I need to go travel before I have to deal with this!”  Fortunately, while it’s probably not the smartest thing for me to ditch health insurance, everything is looking fine for now.  Naturally I’m experiencing a huge amount of self-doubt around this whole trip, but I’m counter-intuitively choosing to go for it regardless.  This is all really difficult for me.