An Ode to a Decade of Mendocino

Sometimes time passes slowly, and sometimes it flashes by in an instant. And somehow it’s often a strange mix of both. Fleeting but infinite.

When change comes, it sweeps through my life like a tidal wave, knocking everything over, uprooting my best laid plans. It is probably because I so carefully lay those plans, over-analyzing every step, that changes have this affect on me. You think I would learn. But I am, after all, a stubborn Taurus…

Recently I took a chance that set in motion a number of big changes on the horizon. I applied for a full-time position at a creative agency. The sort of place I had always wanted to work, but years of working remotely had spoiled me into stagnation. Maybe the isolation is getting to me. Maybe I’m just getting old. But the time seemed ripe for trading in my freelancer freedom, flexible schedule and nonexistent commute for something different. Something more stable and sustainable.

And just like that, I had a phone interview, followed by an in person one. And as this was a connection through my festival work (once again, thank you Tulku and Enchanted Forest…), I quickly became excited and felt like it was a great fit. Last week I received an offer from The Hybrid Creative in Santa Rosa, who was recently acquired by Kush Bottles, a growing company focused on marketing for the new legal cannabis industry. Instead of getting into an industry as the bubble is bursting, I’m excited to be entering a new frontier, on the come-up, in a space that truly allows for some creativity.

This week as I sort through my storage, let go of what I can, see friends and stop by my favorite spots along the coast along the way, I reflect on what my time here has meant to me. And what it has done to me. I am so excited for the next leg of the journey, but letting go of something I love has never been my strong suit, and change is hard.

Today I stopped at a new stretch of the coastal trail in Fort Bragg, on the Noyo Headlands. I walked to the edge as I often do, I sat down on the rocky earth, and I looked out at the ocean. And then, I wrote this…

Now that I know we will be parting soon, Mendo, I have to stop by all my favorite ocean lookouts when I pass by. I only wish I had done it more…

This place is something truly special, a gem of a tiny community I fell in love with instantly and have spent my hardest but most rewarding years. The rugged Pacific laps the rocky edge of the west coast as I reflect on the journey that brought me here and the one that lies ahead.

Luckily I am not going far, but for the first time in my life I am moving somewhere that is entirely based on only my own choices and desires; I am embracing this change of my own creation and running towards my fears. It is both exhilarating and melancholy…

I first came here with someone who had been here before and very much drove our decision to move here. And while everything else about that relationship was toxic and hurt me in ways I am still struggling to understand, I am so grateful that it brought me here. Mendocino, you have nurtured me through the hardest heartbreaks I have ever lived through. The redwoods have stood tall by my side and the community has been there for me when no one else was. The people I have met here have shaped and shown me who I am. The friends I have made are for life. The healing this place and these people have brought me has literally saved my life and taught me more than any other education I have had.

I have never been more excited to start a new chapter even though it terrifies me a bit that it is all on my own and was a fairly sudden decision. I will miss being able to pull off the highway to a beautiful ocean view at random, being seeped in the deepest silence of nature, and feeling truly alone yet supported and whole. The Mendocino coast is a bit hard to get to, and being behind the redwood curtain is isolating. Luckily I really needed the alone time. And now I am craving change. And a bit more diversity and culture. And inspired by those around me and what is to come, I bid farewell to the place and people who have been my home the past ten years.

Thank you, Mendo friendos. You know who you are. You lifted me up when my heart and my world were shattered, twice. You held me as I shifted careers, made difficult decisions, and explored new waters. Thank you Mendocino. No matter where I travel, nothing compares to driving around that last curve before the ocean view opens up or speeding through the towering redwoods with the windows down and the music blasting… hitting the county line and sighing “home.” This place has changed me, carried me through so much pain and growth, and reflected my own magic back to me when I couldn’t see it on my own.

The people here are something else. It’s a bit of a weird mix, and it takes a certain weirdness and tenacity to survive out here. It’s a bit hard to believe this place is even in California. It feels like another planet sometimes. But the people. Wow. You are so inspiring, creative, imaginative and FUN AS HELL. Especially the women. I love Mendo men too of course, but the female friendships I have made here are just what I have needed. You ladies taught me the true strength and resiliency of the feminine. I seemed to be closer to my guy friends growing up, but the women I have met in Mendo have helped me grow in ways I never knew I could. The entire community’s steadfast support, help and reflection has helped me learn to love and heal myself. The friends I have met here have believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. Thank you.

Thank you for the memories, the trips to Usal, the BBQs and dinner parties, the music and dancing. Thank you for the sunshine and the fog, the amazing climate and the rich soils that have helped me find my green thumb and fed me. Thank you for the learning, the medicine and magic, the growth, the conversations and adventures. Thank you ocean waves who drowned out my tears and the friends who stood by me as I put myself back together again and again. Thank you for the connections, the smiles, the parties, THE FESTIVALS and the sunsets. Thank you for challenging me, and for changing me.

Thank you Mendocino, I am so grateful to have called you home. I’m not sure when exactly it will be, but I know our upcoming goodbye will not be forever. Sonoma, and since it’ll be so close, Bay Area, I’ll see you soon… 🖤🌅🌊

The Joys of Moving in an El Niño Winter

Long time no blog… it must be festival production season or something. My role as Marketing Operations Lead with Lucidity Festival started in December and the workload has been steadily increasing as we approach the event in April.  In addition, Enchanted Forest Gathering production is just starting up, and I’ve been promoted! I am now the Marketing Manager, and super excited to help co-create year five, Crossroads, at Lucidity and year six at Enchanted Forest. Having similar roles and some overlap in teams makes the jobs a little easier to balance with my other jobs and projects.

We spent Thanksgiving with James’s mom and her family in La Quinta, way down south by Palm Springs. It was awesome finally getting to meet his beautiful mama, stepdad, grandma & grandpa, and we actually went out to eat on Thanksgiving, so not having to cook or do dishes all day was a wonderful vacation.  We came home with all kinds of gifts grandma insisted we take, bags full of citrus from the trees in their yards, and fun memories of card games and palm trees.

Thanksgiving Family Time
Thanksgiving Family Time

In between Thanksgiving and Christmas, our Mendo friends like to do a little thing called Friendsgiving. This year, we gathered at our friend Krista’s house in Albion, so we got extra spoiled with a wood-fired sauna and a hot tub soak after feasting our faces off on way too many desserts. We also went to a show in Arcata in mid-December to see Giraffage and Slow Magic. Such a good show, complete with emojis, 90s throwbacks, and a giraffe and a zebra jamming out to sick beats together.

For Christmas we traveled up to Idaho to spend about a week with my parents, my sister and her fiancé, my auntie & cousins, and two Haitian exchange students from University of Portland (both of whom are recipients of a scholarship Rachel started at her alma mater specifically for Haitian orphans).  On the drive there and back, we got to experience some serious snow in Tahoe, where we stayed with friends. We even got to go sledding in it and hang out with their wolf pack. Four wolves and a pitbull howling in unison is quite hilarious, in case you were wondering.

Our holidays were spent decorating sugar cookies, going on a trolley tour of Christmas lights, midnight mass, cheersing at folks walking down the snowy streets through a bar window, delicious food (I made a vegducken!!!) and lots of presents—basically, festive as fuck. 😉 We got to see a few friends and see Star Wars—woohoo! Having so many of the people that mean the most to me under one roof was the best Christmas gift I could’ve asked for and well worth the loooooong drives in winter weather. We even had a white Christmas and James got to experience shoveling snow for the first time in his life! Haha!

Silliness Runs in the Family...
Silliness Runs in the Family…

We started off 2016 by celebrating with our Enchanted Forest family at their “Loungerie and Lace” party at Isis Oasis in Geyserville, a quirky little retreat center and animal sanctuary with Egyptian temples and a pool & hot tub. Super plush party with lots of squish, silly birds that heckled you as you walked by, and really cute cats. What would an Egyptian temple be without kitties to worship?

I can’t believe it’s nearing mid-February already, because this year has flown by! PETA, Lucidity, and Enchanted Forest keep me stupid busy. Plus I help Amae Love Designs with her etsy orders and social media. Lucidity’s lineup is getting me all excited for our trip down to Santa Barbara this April. And I’m working on my sister’s wedding invitations and helping plan her bachelorette weekend in Whistler, BC.

Lucidity: Crossroads Music Lineup
Lucidity: Crossroads Music Lineup

And then there’s this moving thing that’s happening.

James got a pretty stellar opportunity working as a caretaker on a local guy’s land. He’s a bit of a homesteader with something like 40 acres, chickens & goats & gardens & a greenhouse. James has been working out there for a few weeks now and there is a house on the property that has opened up. It’s a bit of a fixer upper, but it is bigger than where we’re at now, with an extra room for an office, a more open floor plan and a bunch of fenced land around it that would make a great garden. We looked at it about a month ago and decided that a little change in scenery was long overdue. And so, this week we pack up our lives in the house I’ve lived in longer than anywhere since I left my parents’ place in Idaho and move a few miles south to a new home that’s a little more off the beaten path.

I am excited and really looking forward to more space and the fact that both James and I will now be working from home. But this is a really busy time of year for me with Lucidity two months away and Enchanted Forest tickets going on sale, so juggling it all has been a bit stressful. The weather has been wet and not cooperative at all until just this last weekend, when we lucked out with gorgeous sunshine and highs in the 60s for our yard sale at our friends’ place.

This move has been a long time coming, and now that it’s happening so soon I am really excited for a fresh start, and glad that I’m not going too far. But moving adds a LOT to my already overflowing plate. I’m calling on our community to help us out if possible. There is SO much potential at this new place and my head is swimming with garden plans, to-do lists and layout & decor ideas, but I barely have time to think about any of it with meetings, multiple jobs, emails,  tasks, newsletters to design, posts to schedule, graphics to create, phone calls and tickets to sell. I got a Lucidity intern to help me with social media stuff a few weeks ago, he started off strong and then had to back out this week. While I’m moving… Fun! 😛

There’s been a lot going on, plus a couple of dinners, birthdays, and parties, but mostly work and planning. Scheming and hustling. Grinding and hoping. Dreaming and doing. 2016 is starting off with big changes and I have a good feeling about it all. But I am also realizing just how much STUFF I own that now has to be moved and how much work the next few days will be. My Valentine’s Day Weekend won’t be spent with relaxing bubble baths and romantic dinners, but moving boxes and scrubbing walls… But I’m looking forward to it for sure. And by looking at the recent weather, maybe the universe is smiling upon us. My last move was in the winter as well, it’s never easy, but this time I have more help, and James and I will soon be moving into our first place that is OURS – rather than him moving into my place and having to keep most of his stuff in storage because it was already packed full enough. As I’m dealing with packing & moving stress, I just close my eyes and picture my new OFFICE and all that glorious wall space I get to fill up with art and smile. Thanks, 2016, I think I’ll keep you…