Heading South: changing seasons, rearview mirrors & feeling small

Returning back to Minnesota with 60 degree sunshine pounding the pavement.
Tooling around on the lend-away-banjo, playing the only four chords I have been able to muster.

Flagstaff Arizona - Blind Spot Creatives

I spent the last two weeks down South in the desert beauty of Arizona and Utah - starting off with a visit to grandmas and ending the week wandering with a fellow ramblin' gypsy soul. I always leave as if I'm going to find something, figure something out, let something go, come back with new eyes... and I guess, in a subtle, quiet way, that might be the case. But for the most part, things aren't different, just deeper, maybe understood a little more clearly.

Blind Spot Creatives - Grand Canyon Sunrise

I woke up well before the sunrise in order to climb out of my sleeping bag and navigate the backroads in the pitch black. Heading North making it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with an hour to spare. The stars were still glowing as a gentle haze hit the horizon. I perched myself off in the distance in an attempt to avoid the crowds, watching as the sun slowly changed the landscape.

New layers revealed with each minute that passed.

6 billion year old sediment finding its way from weathered storms and erosion... it made me think how precious time and patience really are. Change takes time - in the case of some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer, it takes a lot of time.

And so do I....

National Monument Utah - Blind Spot Creatives

As the day wore on I continued my journey towards Utah. Passing by on Arizona 89 winding through the lush greenery of spring, I begin to notice the rearview... A chance to glance at what was just witnessed with a sense of departure and appreciation - never looking too long, because in doing so I'd miss what lies ahead. 

Hours were spent weaving through National Monument. Once upon a time it was the home of a sub-tropical rainforest with evidence of dinosaurs and evolutionary findings. Now a hot, hollow desert landscape. The colors, textures and terrain changed with every curve in the road.

Change, change is all around us.

Blind Spot Creatives - Blooming Cactus

I arrived in Zion. My last trip out was in November. The air was colder then, the roads dustier, the trees limp of life. The seasons had transitioned as the cottonwoods lined the valley floor, a whole new face painted as the sage had a turquoise hue contrasting the bright red and orange sandstone and the cactus blooms just beginning to bud. 

Zion National Park - Blind Spot Creatives

The week was in constant movement with little sense of time, almost no direction and a bit of space for reflection. Each look-out another opportunity to pause, soak in the scene, to breathe. Everything around me was bigger than life, simple, adaptable... Momentarily provoking a small, unimportant, frivilous feeling.

If only I could hold on to this moment and carry it with me everywhere I go...

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Lying on the rocks looking at the world spin upside down, I wonder why it is so easy to become forgetful, caught up and deluded to my emotions. Somewhere deep inside hides an identification, a super-imposed significance, the idea that the universe revolves around me and my pettiness. As the shadows dance upon the pines I fill with humility, followed with humbleness. 

Mike Dunn - Blind Spot Creatives

I'm not the easiest person to spend extended amounts of time with. I have this horrible tendency to be overbearing, honest to a fault, casting off unruly, unnecessary, and unrealistic expectations... However, the company shared was a graceful reminder to how important it is to have people challenge you, to question your train of thought and to keep your emotions in check. Oh, how I appreciate the genuine.

Zion Trees - Blind Spot Creatives

Friday morning I awoke early, hours before a lick of light. Rain in the desert, what a send off. I was filled with emotion, I don't know how to define it, and I'm not sure it matters all that much... but the patter of water on a tin top magnified whatever was held inside. 

Life can go on without any question, simply in terms of black and white, this or that, like or dislike - split up, fragmented, or completely unobserved. Maybe it'd be simpler that way. However, I find, or rather make, meaning out of everything. Piecing together memory with reality, imagination with rationality, using the external world as a mirror, a reminder, that there is more to this life than the stories within my head. 

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Waiting to board the redeye home as the movie reel begins to spin. Replaying the conversations, reliving the experiences, reflecting on some of my hindrances.... Too often I find myself trying to force change, grasping at peak experiences, with desire as my motivation. What I am learning, and forgetting, and remembering, and relearning is I have very little control to what happens in life, to what I feel. Clinging to these emotions and experiences, claiming them as mine, and holding on for dear life in attempt to make them last.

Dead flowers - Blind Spot Creatives

Nothing lasts, and it's not supposed to. Everything, always, is in constant flux. That is what makes life beautiful - the uncertainty, the mystery, the unpredictability. At times it's uncomfortable to let go, it's unsteady to stand on sinking sand. There is absolutely no stability in life and my seeking and searching for it seems to be the cause of all my undue suffering. This ignorant desire also casts the belief that things aren't 'good enough' as they are, that somehow I am supposed to twist and contort experience to fit in a box, and if it doesn't fit, I shove it in... 

Dozing off in an empty isle as my head bobs to and fro. The pilot announces our return to Minneapolis. As I peer out the window I witness the sun rising below me. Another new day, fresh, open and always changing. I accept that, I welcome it and I begin. 


Note to Self: The Illusion of Indolence

Note to Self: The Illusion of Indolence
Journal Reflection

On the surface, things seem idle and indolent.
However, it is here, in these quiet hours, that the most visceral discoveries reveal themselves.
It is the little whispers of wisdom you must greet with the widest appreciation.
For their value is not yet tangible, though with trust and patience, virtue will be uncovered.
Do what you enjoy and the sweetest fruit will fill your fortune.
It is a daily practice in which your fears and doubts cease to influence.
You realize what you do today is all that matters and finally

What is it you're living for?

You can't turn back the clock.
At some point you have to really look
yourself in the mirror and ask


Our passions do not come randomly.
They are sent to us as a guide to
move forward in a meaningful way.
Life is short and it only gets shorter-
what is it you're living for?

I've been contemplating the existential question of


since as long as I can remember.
The signs kept pointing in the same direction.
But I'd avoid it, push it off until tomorrow.
"I'll begin another day" 
"I'm too busy right now"
"I'm not ready"
"What will people think".

Excuse Me While I Interrupt...

Oh, how often I steal from the moment due to my habitual need
to chime in and provide 'help' or (most often unwanted) insight.
I've begun to notice this impulse each time I interrupt the conversation.
Frequently filling the gaps with "I know...." or "you should try this"....
On the surface it seems innocent and meaningless,
dressed in false empathy and support.
However, what I've realized is how little I listen
and how often I feel the need to defend MY opinion, MY experience, MY ego. 


Context: I've been receiving and responding to Snail Mail from a very dear friend living out West. At first these letters were nice means of keeping in touch, in a meaningful way. However, the depth and degree of each handwritten note continues to surprise me. My ability to recognize such personal pitfalls is not foreign, however being able to share these with another has definitely become a new practice. A practice that is proving to be extremely helpful in creating positive (almost effortless) changes in my habits & impulses.

Step #1. Notice.
Step #2. Accept.
Step #3. Let Go.

Dear ......

After our last phone conversation I felt a pitiful sense of regret for my pushy opinions and subtle [not at all] means of 'advice'.
After a day of such remorse I opened your letter...
"The practice of providing, not pushing."

I'm sure you've picked up on my impulsive need to toss in my two cents.
Please be assured this forcefulness has been a demon since as long as I can remember,
& is most definitely recognized as a shameful incompetency-
one I'm trying to tame. 

I am aware, of course (after the fact), that my hasty responses
and 'I know it all' attitude is both a beast and a burden.
I'm also going to assume these patterns are generally brushed off,
maybe even unnoticed. 

However, this is a shadow I've been dancing with two left feet.
So instead of running from it, I'll dwell a bit longer....

The question then becomes:
What is it I'm trying to defend?

This habit is not found solely in long distance phone calls, it has plagued me throughout all relationships. 

Another question arises:
Why do I feel the need to be heard?
What is it that I'm retorting?
And why exactly do I attach myself so strongly to personal beliefs & opinions?

The answer is not solid, but I must start somewhere...
Maybe it is an empty seat filled with overwhelming doubt?
A lack of self esteem? A tactile response to keeping my head above water?
Instead of focusing on Self, I reflect on the gaps of the external world. 

Is there a difference? 
Only in the name I give it.

All-in-all, my ego screams to be heard.
This life, these relationships/connections are nothing less
than puddles of pooled lessons, mere reflections.

Am I doing it right? Am I being fulfilled?

If all I see is unfulfillment (flaws, faults, deficiencies) of others, that can only mean a void lies within. To combat the dirty downfall I welcome an integration - to practice listening more than I speak.

Please, be patient with my process.....

Love always,

Dirt, Dust & Desert Air - A Week Spent in Southwest Utah

I touched down in Vegas.

A White Ford Utility Van swooped me up and off we went. Mike is the ramblin, gamblin gypsy soul I met back in Winter Park, Colorado. A Minnesota boy livin' on the road. Throughout the years we'd adventure into the woods whenever timing and convenience allowed. We've spent our moments climbing fire towers, wandering the Superior Hiking Trail and exploring Stillwater and other Minnesota finds. 

Winter was on the horizon,
so I thought why not make a trip to the desert before the cold set in?

Why not.



He welcomed me into his home. A built out van fully dressed in character. Tibetan Prayer Flags entangled with Christmas lights hung above the plywood memory-foam bed. A straw hat on the dashboard. Rocks & crystals in every cup holder. Plastic totes filled with kitchen supplies and laundry baskets full of rock climbing ropes and carabiners. A mini book shelf stocked with an Edward Abbey Quote Journal, Thoreau's Walden and a few of Kerouac's favorites. The floor was covered with a dusty striped rug and a gallon bucket lined with grocery bags hung on the door as a garbage bin. Red curtains broke up the space; driving in front, living in back. Shoes and hats dangled from the passenger seat.

Every inch was resourcefully endowed with simple living.

We spent our days crawling up, beside and on top of the rocks. From red, to orange and yellow, to whites, pinks and browns - the landscape was a rainbow of erosion. Years of change captivated in wide open spaces. Within one 30-mile stretch we saw the ecosystem change tenfold. I had the luxury of window watching. Arches and canyons contrasting the bright blue sky. Dirt & dust. Grass & shrubs. Pandorosa Pines, Douglas Fir & Aspen lined trails.

It's funny how you notice the familiarities of home no matter where you go.

Per usual, I denied any insistence of having a plan - stubborn & steadfast - we floated on with ease. Without much conversation we landed wherever the dirt road led. Backroads as our driveway, each day holding a new home-away-from-home. Once we arrived to the new abode we'd pile the brush up for a cozy campfire. Hobo dinners and BBQ sauce filled the air. Thanks to daylights savings the evening fell slightly after seven. Darkness became the coyotes cue to cry. Staring deep into the hot coals, as the guitar hummed chords I hadn't known.


The desert is a different land. Hostile yet Holy. The air is thin and full of dust, though easy to breath. The space is silent, yet full of insight.

You sit down and you see nothing, you hear nothing, yet you find something. No cell phone or calendar or clock screaming at me to do this or that. A routine consistent with following the sun; up with her glow and out with her disappearance. Time - time to sit and stare. No agenda, no expectations, yet all was exceeded. These experiences are subtle reminders to live in the moment. To be present with the company that surrounds you, the environment that houses you, the heart that holds you. 


The week boasted a plenitude of these very moments.

Much of life is surface level - until you decide to consciously dig a bit deeper, get your fingernails a bit dirtier, callous the palms and question the obvious.

These wide spaces left little room to hide and the camaraderie enabled the same welcoming openness. A humble acceptance to be as quirky with company as I am in solitude. Gratitude, true, wholesome, loving appreciation filled me up as I hiked my pack on my back. A hug and see you later before returning to the Las Vegas Airport. 



You meet people in life and each one of them teaches you something. You can love them, hate them, admire them, miss them. They can excite you, inspire you, push you, challenge you, frustrate and irritate the living hell out of you - but they've stumbled in your life for a reason, even if only temporarily. Everyone and everything you see is merely a reflection, a mirror into the soul you call your own.  And by being true to the experience, being aware of your surroundings, being receptive to the symbolism you commence your own meaning. And the interpretation you create emanates through your thoughts, actions and ultimately defines your connection. Regardless of the flux of life, every experience comes and goes in it's own time, and within perfect time. 

You never know what you're going to remember, or who you'll see again, or how far distance will spread, but true friendship defies all boundaries. There are certain people that resurface and their appearance changes with the circumstances. Life is busy and she just keeps moving, and at times the bustle creates a facade of emptiness. A grasping for something more, robust relationships become elusive and you feel on your own. As I touch back down in Minnesota I breathe a sigh of relief, like a whisper of wind. Relishing in the comfort of coincidence. We're never alone, connection is merely a state of mind.


[Note to Self] Campfire Conversations

In some little town in the middle of the desert lives a stop-and-check-it-out thrift store.
I bought two blank cards: one for a friend, one for myself.
Later that night, with the stars and the fire as light, I picked up a pen.
I didn't have anything to say, but somehow I filled the empty pages. 


Note to self...
November 10th, 2017
Springdale, Utah

The page is blank and I've got nothing to say-
but I'll muster up something and save it for a rainy day.

What is the point to this life I ask?
The signs hidden in plain sight. 
The point is not to merely count-
lost in memories or resurfaced doubt. 

There is no goal and no place to be, 
for it is the experience of waking up each day.

Wiping the crust from our dusty eyes and
letting go of the lonely miles. 
A glimmer of ease in every shaky tree,
emptying itself of last seasons sorrows-
making room for infinite tomorrows.

Connection is found, right here and right now-
place another sage brush on this burning desert fire. 

With each exhale the flame grew higher,
another day older yet getting closer
to that familiar innocent child.

Dirty hands darkened with ash, 
beauty found in a dying past.

Me, My and the Mind
hanging out like long lost friends.
Where I've been and where I'm going, 
finding solace in not knowing.

Another transition, subtle though strong.

Life is a journey, a constant returning Home.

Cheers to Chuckles




In the name of mystery & adventure

Halloween is Chuckles 6 birthday.
Since the day I swooped him from the shelter
he's reminded me to be bold and to do as I please. 

From the mountains to the backroads & paddle boards..
He is the best furry friend anyone could ask for-
Cheers to many more years of crazy antics.



Constant state of change

Gradual, persistent and then all at once.
Everything, always
is in a state of constant change.

Sometimes we notice it, other times it sneaks past us
only to be found in reflective understanding.
Hindsight undoubtedly 20/20.


Same spot within a space of seven days. 



The sun is slowly risin' 
The day has just begun
Darkness fell behind us
And we must journey on 

The darkest hour is just before dawn
the narrow gate leads us home

Look at that moon sinking
the horizon full of light
Whatever this day will bring
come without a fight


Duluth - Autumn 2017

Arrowhead Region
Duluth, Mn & North

The weekend was spent revisiting memories past. Duluth was were I first began to truly discover myself, a young, innocent know-it-all freshman soaked up in the independence and freedom of college life. Returning to Lady Superior is always a coming home of sorts, a taste of timelessness. No matter how familiar the feeling, I seem to always get lost in the comfort of the serene and wild Great Lake. Exploring the raging rivers that hurl over boulders, creating waterfalls that flood downstream. October is one of the North Land's greatest gifts. 

I pulled off halfway through Seven Bridges Road. Sitting atop the mossy basalt rocks - tapping into the subtle quiver of the aspen leaves. Perfect timing to soak in the peak of Autumn and all the symbolic lessons this season has to offer. Throwing twigs, watching as they plunge into the current. The movement of water; constant, unconditioned, untiring. No agenda. No rhyme or reason. Simply flowing where it will.

Nature, that’s all it is, movement. Nature does not resist. Nature does not control. It simply follows the cue of time and progresses, changes, evolves.

Highway 61, dirty laundry pit stops & breakfast for lunch

Autumn seems to always point me North.
The days get shorter and the nights get colder.
Highway 61 continues to grab my hand, pulling me off the highway and through the small quaint Minnesota towns.
Somewhere there is an imaginary line where the prairie magically turns to pine. 
I left the deciduous forest of home to soak up peak season of the Arrowhead region of the Northeast.

 On the way I had some dirty laundry staring at me from the backseat, so of course I stopped to clean it.


 Moose Lake. A small laundromat sat in the midst of the downtown construction. Population just scratching the surface of a few thousand. The owner sat quietly behind the dimly lit front desk, dodging eye contact and any surface level conversation that might proceed. 
I ignored his avoidance and asked him for ten dollars worth of quarters. 
His manner was calm, his choice of music was spot on. 
The Rolling Stones singing from the tiled ceiling....

Why do you hide your love, they asked. 

I had a few choices of chairs.
I picked the dark olive one with a square yellow cushioned back.
The washer shook as each cycle passed. 
Lost and found socks pegged to the community board along with missing dog posters and help wanted ads.


What does any of this matter you might wonder?????

I've been feeling a little 'distracted' lately, as if I were racing for some unannounced destination. A common theme that continues to resurface as often as the seasons change.

Duluth was where I was heading, though a pit stop was completely necessary. Your parents always tell you that the older you get the faster it flies, this life never slows down. And though that adage holds a hint of truth, how much do we affect the pace?

A few years back I vouched to strictly stick to the back roads and though I find myself on the dirt trail, I'm still flying at 65 or 70..... WHY DO I FEEL SO RUSHED?? Where in heavens am I trying to get to and why on earth do I feel the need to do it as quickly as possible? 

It's as if everything is pushing me onward
& all I want is to slow down.

Thus, the laundromat is where I found myself. I was engulfed in the setting.
People coming and going and with each ding of the door I was pulled back to my seat. 
So often I find myself high in the clouds, my mind racing and pacing, oscillating back and forth. back. and. forth. The same stories and ideas and beliefs and judgements and worries consuming my energy until I am completely depleted and unaware of the world around me. 
DING. Here I am. Back in my seat. 

I hopped in my car and before leaving town found an all-day diner to enjoy a short stack heaping with butter and maple syrup.

I could have turned my back, but instead I decided to face the booth housing an older man sipping on his milk shake.

'Dessert before dinner'

he snickered. Not another word was spoken. 

Feeling fluffy as the pancakes that heavily filled my belly, I paid my tab and moseyed on. 

A shore shell sitting in the center council along with a driftwood dream catcher hanging from the rearview. Back to the back roads I go, this time inching my way north. Stopping for anything that caught my eye; county parks, a forest of pruned pines and the lake surrounded with tamaracks....

Life doesn't have to merely pass. 


Boats, Bluegrass & Barefeet.

Down near the South Eastern tip of Minnesota lies a beautiful river town called Winona. I found myself situated in the heart of bluff country, surrounded by the mighty Mississippi and deciduous forests as far as the eye can see. Boats & Bluegrass was the occasion, a weekend getaway was the reason and autumn the season. I had been invited to the festival before, but finally carved out the time to dance in the dirt. 


I headed south early Wednesday to enjoy a long drive following the windy Historic Highway 61. With a cooler full of fresh food, guitar lying atop my camping mattress and great company in the passenger seat, I began to lose interest in the ticking clock. As my responsibilities shed their weight, expectations naturally ceased. We spent the day wandering throughout town, followed by a short hike overlooking a birds-eye-view of the backwaters we'd soon be playing in. Before dusk settled we made our way to the grounds of Prairie Island and set camp beneath a small grove of trees with the river quietly running yards away. The sun was hot with the forecast in the 90's.

This year the festival celebrated it's 13th birthday and the energy was high. Originally started in 2005, Boats began as a way to promote Red Tail Outfitters, a local canoe and kayak rental company. Over a decade later the music lives on and ticket sales continue to be capped at 1500 in order to keep the festival small and full of character. 

On the surface, people come for the music. Strings, banjos, and electric washboards hum from Thursday to Saturday. Songs about time, death & dying, whisky, falling in love, living life and letting go.  The music doesn't lend itself well to categories or boundaries, but for imaginative imagery we'll paint a picture blended with bluegrass and modern folk. Some of my favorites included Shook Twins, Mandolin Orange, Them Coulee Boys, Rachel Hanson Band, The Lowest Pair, Charlie Parr, Dead Horses, and The Last Revel - [full lineup online]. The lyrics are relatable; stories about transitions and troubles, connections to the past, hopes for the future and gratitude for the opportunity to let your hair down and dance in the gravel. It's Mid-September and as the leaves gracefully fall, the songs don't only sing to you, but through you. Autumn being the beginning of some undefinable end.


Beyond the music lies a community of free-wheeling, happy campers. Mostly mid-western folks with hearts of gold and eyes that sparkle that all familiar welcoming twinkle. I came in good company, my friend Mike had lived in Winona for some time and was a seasoned veteran. He told me I'd fit right in, though I couldn't have imagined how right he was. I spent much of my weekend slinking in and out of the festival grounds, poking into different friend groups and experiencing the diversity of minds and personalities that flocked to the festival. The openness and blind hospitatlity always amazes me, strangers who quickly let down their guard, conversations that outline personal struggles and dreams and hopes and aspirations. Freedom, you can feel it, always and everywhere, if you just bust down the walls.


The environment sets the tone. Boats and Bluegrass is a fun, family-friendly festival with a laid-back, hang-out, kick up your feet kind of attitude. Winona State University organizes backwater trips in which you can either follow a group through the marshy Mississippi or freely borrow canoes, kayaks and standup paddle boards to independently explore. There is live river concerts throughout the weekend with a houseboat as the stage and the water as the dance floor. The harmonica bouncing off the banks as bald eagles fish for lunch only feet away from where you float. There is no agenda, no hassle and absolutely no worries pulling you around.

College kids, townies, travelers, the outdoorsy type,  business folk, gypsies, deadheads, musicians and artists all jumbled together. Campfire songs and hammocks swinging from tree to tree. An early sunrise haze to welcome each day.  Lawn chairs on the beach and kids swimming like fish. The best apple pie you can find and local beer on tap. You get what you need when you need it most.


It was the last night of music and as the stars multiplied with the dark skies, I lay flat upon a childhood memory. The merry-go-round spins with my head in the center. Innocent, once again. I reflect on the weekend and recollect the endless conversations and connections that were made. The amount of free hugs and genuine smiles - all these people who told me what a treat the weekend was. I believed them, but now I understood. The festival was spent barefoot and braless. I had no image to uphold, and with an empty slate I was clear to be whoever I wanted. And for the first time, in a long time, I felt like myself. Sitting in a calm space with the stars still swirling above. Another reminder to not take life so damn seriously, to slowdown and enjoy the spins, to open up and let love in, to shake my hips, get dirt under my nails and to love the life you get. 

It's easy to get caught up. It's easy to follow the distractions and to fill the schedule. It's easy to lose yourself in this modern-day bustle. And though at times it seems hard to find yourself, to reconnect, to appreciate who and what and where you're from, it is the meaning we give that makes this life worth living.

How often do we question our step? Always looking over our shoulder to see who is watching, silencing our song, reserved and afraid to dance to our own beat.

A personal reminder:

LET LOOSE. Stomp and twirl, make some noise - you aren't dead yet. Don't doubt your rhythm, especially in such a pretty dress. 

Boats & Bluegrass is one of those unexplainable experiences in which you have to be there to take it all in. The quality of music is untouchable, the kindness of the people is undefinable, the beauty of the setting is magical. Truly, and without  doubt, this festival is a homecoming of strangers, friends and family for years to come.

Until next year, keep dancing.

Birthday Wishes

On Tuesday I turned 25.... words won't suffice. So here is a picture to put it into perspective. Life is free & easy if you let it. Love the ones you meet, learn from the ones you love and let that damn smile shine. Thanks for all the birthday wishes y'all.



Photo Credit: Eugene Young