Our water baby loves a dip in Weir Hot Springs in Idaho.

Our Own Piles of Leaves | Poem + Photos

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Cultivating Creativity, Reflections on Life

Sometimes the falling leaves feel heavy, brown, smothering

adding up to all the moments I wasn’t quite enough

for me, my son, my parents, my husband, my everyone

burying possibility in a dank pile of mush.

 

But sometimes the falling leaves feel floaty, golden, freeing

each one an echo of an imperfectly grateful exhale

that becomes the laugh I least expected

forming piles of possibility in layers of fading sunlight.

 

The sun hides for months on end in these latitudes

sleet and slush the begrudged and grungy visitor

plastered in a haze across our once-bright windows

shrouding the memories of headlong hedonism.

 

I never welcome the grungy grey gracefully

but rather struggle to find the golden in the brown.

It always turns out, though, that freedom from smother

is simply the gratitude for good.

 

Open-mouthed kisses blown from wide-spread fingers

A husband sleeping on the couch to give his wife a quiet bed

Ukelele strums with mumbled half-assed harmonies

A photo book made with painstakingly perfect captions and colors.

 

Meanwhile, the leaves fall like so many stories

each one sighing through the air with its own

weight and momentum

settling into the piles that layer our lives.

 

Kayaking and canoeing the lower Flathead River with friends.
Kayaking and canoeing the lower Flathead River with friends.
Scenic cliffs on the lower Flathead River, full of swallows sailing through the sky.
Scenic cliffs on the lower Flathead never disappoint, full of swallows sailing through the sky.
"Where would YOU drop the crab pot? And do you think it's weird that the trap is bigger than our packraft?"
“Where would YOU drop the crab pot? And do you think it’s weird that the trap is bigger than our packraft?”
Our water baby loves a dip in Weir Hot Springs in Idaho.
Our water baby loves a dip in Weir Hot Springs in Idaho.
Our Philly-based visitors are psyched on the natural outdoor hot tub!
Our Philly-based visitors are psyched on the natural outdoor hot tub!
Fields like these make your heart sigh each fall.
Fields like these make your heart sigh each fall.
A brief picnic during our mushroom-hunting hike around Tally Lake in Montana.
A brief picnic during our mushroom-hunting hike around Tally Lake in Montana.
How doesn't love a good pile of autumn leaves?
Who doesn’t love a good pile of autumn leaves?
Talon kind of, sort of helps rake leaves.
Talon thinks he helps rake the leaves (but actually just drags them across the road).

How To Be A Rebel

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in Cultivating Creativity, Reflections on Life

Last Monday, my friend Gillian Kessler played a cover of John Mayer singing Free Fallin’ during her evening dance class. She dedicated it to me. Naturally, I started crying.

I bet you would have, too, especially if Gillian had just led you through an hour of movement-based soul-searching centered around the theme “rebel.” For me, I feel most free when I’m a little–or a lot–rebellious. As John Mayer caressed several octaves, I cried because I realized that I’d lost my inner rebel. You know the one: the little voice that tells you to take risks, laugh louder, dance bigger, show the world you don’t give a shit. The one that tells you the occasional free-fall is as vital as breath. The one that tells you to live your truth.

off the rack afro brazilian dance bri randall
Dancing with Gillian a few years back at the Wilma Theater in Missoula.

My inner rebel disappeared when we returned from our adventures overseas. I want her back. This week, I got to work figuring out how to be a rebel again.

STEP 1: Remember when I felt most free.

That’s easy: when I first moved to Missoula. I was cartwheeling in happy mental circles, giggly with glee at the world. I was 22. I belonged to only me. I could free-fall wherever and whenever I wanted to. Where’d the giggles go? They got slowly buried in layers of responsibility and connection as adulthood progressed. We start to promise pieces of ourselves to lovers, friends, siblings, parents, children. I now belong to so many others that I no longer belong to myself.

Brianna Randall walking in Missoula with little kiddos

STEP 2: Go camp alone for 24 hours. 

Alone time is the panacea that soothes my soul. But I haven’t had 24 hours alone in 14 months, which is likely why my inner rebel is buried. To uncover her, I spent a night camping on the Blackfoot River. The golden leaves and flowing water lulled me into a long sleep–13 hours!–that illustrated why it’s tough to be rebellious when you’re massively sleep deprived. The next morning, I started to find the path back to freedom by making a new, improved vision board for my life.

camping on blackfoot river brianna randall
Everything a girl needs for 24 hours alone.

STEP 3: Just say no to ‘spirit suck.’

It’s time to take back some of those pieces of me I’ve parsed out lately, namely to commitments that don’t feed my inner rebel. I rarely say no. It’s because I suffer from FOMO–the clinical term for the ‘fear of missing out’. But I’ve started to cut out anything that doesn’t make me smile (even if it’s just a little, bitty smile down deep). This is hardest to do with work-related commitments, as the temptation of more money can be the ultimate spirit suck.

This scene is the opposite of spirit suck.
This scene is the opposite of spirit suck.

STEP 4: Say yes to what gives me energy.

Dancing. Yoga. Staring into Talon’s eyes and kissing his toes. Walking alone on trails. Cooking dinner with Rob. Those are the easy ones to pinpoint. As for work, I’ve realized that my passion is telling stories. It’s easy to figure out from there which contracts will allow me to write compelling stories and which won’t.

talon randall roberts hiking in missoula
Hiking in the sun with Talon makes my inner rebel happy.

STEP 5: Give myself permission to take time–and risks. 

Here’s the crux of what my inner rebel wants: a book. I want to write my own book, full of my own stories. And that’s a huge risk, both emotionally–can I actually just do that?–and financially, since writing a book may never provide money for me or my family. But I’ve given myself permission to try. Steps 1-4 will hopefully give me the time and motivation to take the risk. Meanwhile, I’m pretty excited to practice free-falling again–even if it’s a short, sweet fall into my own bed or into my baby’s eyes.

It’s a lifelong journey to cultivate my inner rebel. I got off-trail there for a bit, but luckily Gillian and John Mayer came to the rescue and helped get me back on course toward finding my truest self.

talon randall roberts by rattlesnake creek in missoula
Talon and Rattlesnake Creek = stories waiting to happen.
Off the Rack in Missoula dance bodypaint brianna randall
Back in the days of bodypaint and dancing in front of big crowds: Off the Rack 2012.
brianna and talon on walk with beco gemini in parka 2.5 months

I am not a superhero

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Cultivating Creativity

I went to an inspiring talk tonight on social media strategies. I know: most of you wouldn’t write “inspiring” in the same sentence as “social media strategies.” Totally understood. For me, though, it was the first professional development opportunity in months, and I grabbed it with both hands and a Beco-full of babbling baby.

Talon happily “wah-wah-wah’ed” loudly through the first half of the presentation until I shoved a boob in his mouth and he fell asleep. (Note: I highly recommend the Beco Gemini as it allow moms to be superheroes who walk, talk, professionally develop, and discreetly breastfeed all at the same time.) The second half of the presentation inspired me to do two things: blog more often, and drink a stout while reflecting upon the fact that I don’t really know if I like Twitter.

The Beco in action on a hike in the Rattlesnake Wilderness.  I swear there's a sleeping baby under that blanket.
The Beco in action on a hike in the Rattlesnake Wilderness. I swear there’s a sleeping baby under that blanket.

Twitter aside, I’m here with my stout, blogging. But what about? That’s what usually keeps me from blogging: the fact that I don’t have a tidy five paragraph essay with a clear beginning, middle and ending to share with all of you. I’m well-trained to produce thesis-driven pieces—I was a writing tutor for five years through college and grad school, and I taught Technical Writing and English Composition courses. Theses are the essence of writing…aren’t they?

Well, the presenter (this lovely New Zealand-dwelling Welsh man whose name consists of only two letters) encouraged us to get rid of that model. DK wants us to use audio and movies and pictures and graphics and other people’s content and whatever the hell we feel like writing/using/posting in any given moment. I sat down to try out a more organic blogging experience.

And came to these profound conclusions:

  • I prefer writing five paragraph essays.
  • I’ll try out Twitter for a few months.
  • Welsh accents are pretty awesome.
  • Sleeping babies are very sweet.
  • Stouts are imperative to my mental health.
  • I am not a superhero.

Until the return of my regularly-scheduled, thesis-driven essays, please enjoy this video of Talon and his dad taking a giggle intermission during their daily band practice:

 

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