25 Writer Insights

A Social Media Challenge
Rough Draft
March 2023

An exciting adventure begins! I’m attending #AWP23 in Seattle in March. It’s the writing conference of writing conferences! I have no doubt I’ll remember some of my favorite techniques while simultaneously gaining new insights along the way.

Follow my advice and personal reactions with the hashtag #25WriterInsights on social media this week. Or follow the greater adventure as I write in the wild and explore the Pacific Northwest!

Let’s do this!!! 💃🌎💚🔥


Writer Insight #1:

What are your character’s motivations?

Understanding what someone wants — and needs — adds so much dimension to their profile. And wow, this part of writing fiction always sends me searching the soul. You can understand — and imagine — so much about a stranger when you know what motivates them.

#25WriterInsights #AWP23 #WritingWild2023

Writer Insight #2:

Immerse yourself! You can write what you know, but if it’s constrained to the couch? Lol.. This is a fun one! So far, I rose to greet the antler-adorned passersby, and have a driveway I can’t see through the snow. I also spent Monday morning learning about the Makah Tribe, who hold the key to the destination I most want to reach!

The more you immerse yourself in what life has to offer, the richer the stories you’ll tell.

#writingwild2023 #25writerinsights

Writer Insight 3.

You’ll be amazed what you can do, when you don’t stop short of a goal. Before I set out to reach the northwestern tip of the lower 48 states, I forgot to figure in a few things… Pausing in awe at the earliest sight of the mountains. Turning a 3.5 hour trip into 6 hours with scenic turnouts. The challenging switchbacks and slides on the Olympic Peninsula. The dimming light of sunset in the mist.

For a hot minute, I felt like I was in over my head. Who takes an unending solo joy ride on a Monday night between work shifts, and brings back satisfaction early the next morning?! I almost skipped the errand to get a permit from the Makah Tribe, which I needed to visit the most jaw-dropping place I’ve been so far. But I pushed through! For once, I wanted to be able to come back saying, you know, it was late, it was chaos, I nearly missed it, and yet, I took the leap! Goal unlocked.

When I reflect on creative goals, too, this has been a mantra of mine: Don’t give up. Don’t stop doing what drives you. Even if you only come within striking distance, or miss a goal because it was just too high, you can always set smaller, more realistic goals to elevate your life or your work.

Did you know that’s how I decided to write “Below the 45th Parallel”? I had a different book in mind, but instead chose a goal I knew I could easily and confidently achieve. And with any luck, it will elevate my writing and my creative career — leading me to achieve a higher goal next time!

Besides, the views at Cape Flattery, northwest of Neah Bay, are absolutely mindblowing!!! Taken during a misty sunset, my snapshots of these enormous cliffs on the Pacific Ocean don’t quite capture it. 💃🌎💚🔥

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight 4.

Choose curiosity over fear.

Pretty sure I just awoke to the high-pitched sounds of a wild animal getting breakfast, and another wild animal being maybe — not so fortunate. Not the alarm ringtone I would’ve chosen for 5am, and the sound was slightly terrifying, but that’s content for a story right there! 😅

I’m going to imagine it was an owl, or an elk, or a bobcat, or something really cool.

#writingwild2023 #25writerinsights

Writer Insight 5.

Powerful storytelling takes us to a time and a place. I experienced a classic PNW moment while driving through the Olympic Peninsula, as if I was living a movie, or suddenly sitting inside a retro art poster. I could’ve grabbed lunch at the Model T Pub, too, but I opted for the celebrated ”burger stand” across the street.

The point is these adventures carried so many poignant reminders of old times. Whether it was the antique cars I grew up driving, precarious sea stacks I’ve seen on other shores, or the hollowed-out roots of a tree — forming a cove large enough to crawl inside.

What time and place would you go back to? Beyond a simple age of innocence, that is? And what image would transport you there?

The more we can create this effect in stories, the more we can inspire moving emotions. But maybe there’s a lesson here for life too… Being transported to a time and place often resonates deeply with people. For those trying to forget the past, a simple object can conjure up a moment better left forgotten. For those affected by dimentia, a song from their glory days can prompt uncomplicated joy. Being able to invoke the right time and place — at the right time and place — is a talent, to be sure.

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #6

If you want to slow things down, speed things up. Have you ever read a tension-packed chapter and noticed how every movement is captured on the page? Or watched a film scene and observed changes in the eyes and face of a character while they overcome a daunting obstacle?

A good storyteller knows these details make us care. They get us rooting for the protagonist and give us a gripping reason to keep turning the page. To create that high-speed action or that soul-awakening impact, it takes pointed details and memorable movements. The writing slows down, sending us into a tailspin.

Sunrise feels slower in the mountains. And it reminds me of a little known fact I discovered years ago — novelty is the secret to creating lasting moments. The large marble rocks, the song of the river as it cascades over the sand, the cool tickle of a mountain breeze on one cheek, it’s those vivid details and experiences that make this morning unique for me. They are novel, memorable and new. Looking up at the peaks, I notice every change in the light.

Now you know how vacations can seem so long and immersive, even though our time away is too short. Today, I’m going to slow things down, so I can appreciate every fast-paced detail — of living a full life.

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #7.

It’s like stepping stones from our childhood, only on a grander scale. The world is just waiting for you to make your move!

As for me, I really gotta work on my balance… 😂

#WritingWild2023 #25writerinsights

Writer Insight #8.

“You came here alone for a reason. Now, do what you came here to do.”

It’s true! I’ve been journaling more, publishing more nonfiction than ever, editing websites left and right, but when it comes to the really challenging, creative and inspiring stuff? I’ve been running from it. Fiction. I honestly believe it’s one of the deepest forms of art and craft you can learn. Writers study their whole lives and never master it.

Believe it or not, I often worry my fiction isn’t good enough to be published. That’s tough, because I don’t want to fail at something I love. And yet, it’s exciting because I can keep improving and learn so much every day! It takes courage to keep going.

Well, tonight? I found the courage! I wrote a new short story on the deck by the fire. Heartfelt thanks to a fellow writer who gave me a much needed push!

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #9.

Do you know what lights your fire? Whatever it is, I hope you never lose sight of it!

Tonight, what lit my fire was literally lighting my fire. Lol. I don’t know who designed this wood-burning stove, or why there are two fire boards blocking airflow to the flue, but I was looking forward to writing by a fire. So, I had to find a way to make that baby burn!

Luckily, there was a beautiful alternative on the deck in 42 degree weather. And I did finally succeed with the wood stove… Eventually. Sort of. We had one of these growing up, it should’ve been the easiest part of the day. 😎

Still, the part about how I won this silly superfluous battle made my night!


Writer Insight #10.

It’s not lost on me that I’m one of the olds here, especially attending #AWP23 for the first time or not at the conference representing a book, journal title, or small press. Some of us were discouraged from studying fiction or art in our youth, but that never stopped me — despite the practical decision I made to major in print journalism, which quickly became a dying field. It just slowed my path to publication.

Publication of the novel. The novel is the thing!

At almost 40, I’m still intent on getting my big break in the one artform I’ve loved since i could hold a pencil: Creative writing. There’s a sadness bubbling up inside, and no shortage of regret, but I have to believe there is still time to become who I might’ve been. I DO believe it is never too late to become who you might’ve been. Now, I just have to prove it. To myself, most of all.

The nonfiction guidebook I self-published was a stepping stone. The climb to what I really want out of life extends higher than the mountains. Less than one percent of novelists ever receive a book deal from the traditional publishing industry. But I’m here for it. I’m literally here climbing the mountain!

Maybe I’ll even go back to school, and pursue a Master of Fine Arts in writing. I debate this question every single year.

#25WriterInsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #11.

Ever hear a song and it instantly transports you back to a specific memory? Good or bad or completely mind-blowing, you heard that song play during one of the most significant moments of your life?

I love this effect, and I love how music colors our experiences, especially if you find something that resonates and put it on repeat for momentous occasions. New music and inventive lyrics have played into many of my travels and real-life plot twists. Sometimes, it’s an unpredictable song, one I’ve never heard before or written in another language, making the connection that much more memorable.

Before I left home, I watched a gorgeous short video taken driving through snow trees set to this song. I added it to my playlist and snap! This became the soundtrack to some of my most enchanting drives through the mountains. I heard it this morning, and I was back on the Olympic Peninsula— traveling to the Pacific Coast to inspire my writing.

To make a musical memory your own, you can create this effect intentionally!

🎵Bi’ Tek Ben Anlarim


Writer Insight #12.

“Publishing overall is a long-game, so don’t be afraid to play it that way too.” This quote from one of the literary agents on the panel on Friday captures my approach to becoming a career writer and fiction author. I was fortunate to learn when I lived in Minnesota that publishing a novel takes many years for most writers, especially in the traditional publishing industry.

So, for years, I’ve focused on each step of the process, following the online advice of industry professionals. I’ve become active in the writing community, given many public readings and events, added publications to my growing portfolio, reviewed others’ books, received reviews of my own books, and devoted time to building my platform. Any author you know — if their book is selling well — has devoted a lot of time and energy to some of these aspects of a literary career. A ton of work happens behind the scenes when you’re a writer, usually in our free time after working a full day at the office.

The moments when this work pays off are very gratifying, and creating a beautiful book is so worth it! But my path to publication is definitely a long-game. My goal is to break into traditional publishing, and as you can see, I’m very committed to this goal. I’m encouraged to learn here at #AWP23 that I’ve been doing all the right things!

In the meantime, something as simple as the Contact Form on my website has led to at least five paid speaking engagements in 2023, to speak about my passion for chasing the Northern Lights. A success like this makes me thankful for the process, and the forward movement that springs from it.

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #13.

Confession: I’ve never pitched in an elevator. One of the things I wanted to work on before this conference was to perfect my elevator pitch. I got pretty good at this back in 2016, when I finished my first novel manuscript about the Aurora Borealis, but I’ve lost my touch!

Right now, four published authors sitting just a few feet from me are giving their elevator pitches for their sophomore novels, represented by boutique publishing houses or big publishers like Simon & Schuster. As I listen, I hear the identity of the character, the why behind the character’s situation, where their story evolves, and what they have to overcome.

I wonder if any of these authors have ever pitched in an elevator? I wonder if I will? Would you? Is it too bold to pitch a project to a complete stranger and innocent bystander? Lol… There are a few pieces of the publishing game I have yet to understand!

That said, there’s a conference in Michigan at the end of April, where authors can be guaranteed an opportunity to pitch their book live. Maybe I should do it…


Writer Insight #14.

How will you be remembered? It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out what shape was on the highway signs in Washington. At first glance, I thought that’s not how the state is shaped! Then I wondered, is that the shape of the Puget Sound, or the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or the Salish Sea? It took more than a day of staring at highway signs to have this epiphany: Oh, it’s George WASHINGTON! Duh! 😅

But then I experienced a mix of reactions. That’s some serious patriotism, though he is our nation’s founder. And I don’t think anyone has found too much fault with Washington, yet… I’m glad it’s just a profile, so he can be immortalized with his curly wig and not his wooden teeth… Most of all, would President Washington have wanted it this way? His face on every state highway sign?! Of course, this is a remembrance of sorts. It’s nice, isn’t it?

So, how will we be remembered? I’m not talking about caring what other people think, or fretting over who approves or disapproves of what you create. There comes a time in an artist’s life when those things don’t matter so much. Instead, I’m talking about what you center your life on, what you promote or advocate for, or what you might leave behind when you’re gone. Your legacy.

I think about this for myself all the time. I’d like to be remembered in a dozen encouraging ways, but also for seizing the day and making the most of this one life. Whatever I write and publish, I hope it will be beautiful and eye-opening, but also balanced with enough light to outshine the darkness. In the first novel I publish, I have to get it right. I want what I put out into the world to match my ideals, to be a friendly extension of who I am, and to mesh with how I hope to be remembered.

Even if mass audiences will never know we existed in the future, I still think it’s a good exercise to decide how we’d like to be remembered. But still… No matter how well-known I become, I hope a profile of my head never graces a roadside sign. 😂

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #15.

”You are the hero of your own story.” I’m not sure who said it first, but it’s a great line. It’s rich with meaning, too.

Discussing the hero or heroine of a story happens often for fiction writers. The lead. The protagonist. The primary point of view. Readers identify with heroes who, although they aren’t perfect and make huge mistakes, carry themselves with confidence and self-awareness — and a capacity for meaningful change.

Strong protagonists make choices, follow their own path, and go after what they want. Studying the hero of the story stands out to me, personally, because some of the fiction I write is a bit autobiographical. Some of my fiction reflects my own experiences. So, when a critique partner tells me they think the protagonist is acting weak and cowardly, I suddenly start asking myself how I could’ve created a character like that. What went wrong? In fiction, these character flaws are easily fixed, with bolder lines of dialogue and braver actions on the page.

But what about life itself? It turns out we get to make our own choices there, too. I think at some point over the last five years, I realized this on a very deep level, and I took it to heart. If I wanted to be known in the local writing community, I could make it happen. If I wanted to do more public speaking, I could go for it. If I wanted to self-publish books, I knew where to start. If I wanted to lead a community group, I could do that too. Nothing could stop me. I am the hero in my own story!

I really hope that you are, too. It makes every day so rewarding, when you step into the lead role of your own book! 😉

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #16.

A time comes when it’s important to just finish something. That means I should follow through on this hashtag, even though it quickly dawned on me that 25 insights is a lot of insights! Especially for one trip! 😅

Truly, though, the importance of finishing a project came up on one of the writing panels today. It turns out there is something motivating about being able to call a project done. If you’ve been stuck in the trenches for a while, maybe completing a short, easier project will lift your spirits and renew your confidence.

Now, brace yourself as the rest of these insights come flying across social media at high speed! 😎

#25writerinsights #underconstruction #youvearrived

Writer Insight #17.

On the pier in Seattle, I met a writer who believes in magic. Much in the same way I do. Not the kind of magic you find in fairytales, but the magic of the earth, and the forest, and the sky. The magic of nature and the magic of opening your soul to new opportunities.

Years ago, this writer watched as her son was taken from her when she lived in Russia. With no idea what to do, she decided to leave her homeland. Since then, she has lived in 70 countries, traveled the world doing odd jobs, and written a book about her journey. She heard me mention my book about chasing the Northern Lights to a couple nearby, and she excitedly asked where she could find the book.

We discovered we were both writers, both dining alone, and yet, we had so much more in common. We told each other tales of how our lives once took a turn we never expected — or wanted — and we locked understanding eyes as we discussed how much strength it takes to overcome such tragedy. The most beautiful part of our conversation, though, came from us each sharing how we’d grown, and changed, and found new beginnings — beginnings that were beyond anything we ever imagined in our youth. After we experienced such deep losses, we had looked everywhere for answers. With time, we began to see the magic in the world.

Now, she plans to buy my book, and I plan to buy hers. And I have an open invitation to go hiking with a brilliant new writerly friend in Canada. 💃🌎💚🔥

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #18.

We have to stop getting in our own way. I’ve spent the last few days with writers who are more privileged, more highly educated, more widely published, and way more successful than me. But I realized last night that I have no reason to slump my shoulders or downplay my creativity in my conversations with publishing industry professionals. When I tell them what I have accomplished, their eyes go wide with awe and their expression blooms with respect.

There will always be someone smarter out there in the world, but that doesn’t mean we should judge ourselves as less worthy. Before I moved to Michigan, I was approached by the Minnesota Historical Society who asked about working with me to edit a nonfiction book of Aurora legends and mythology. Nervously, I recommended other writers, other storytellers, and talented photographers; and I acted as if I wasn’t qualified enough to be an expert on the subject. I know so many legends and have done so much reading on Aurora culture!

Yet, I don’t have a Ph.D. in Aurora Literature and Mythology — if that exists, let me know and I’ll enroll right away. Just let me get a master’s degree right-quick. Lol… But you know what? I sold myself short that year, and I basically talked my way OUT of the project. Who knows what might’ve happened if I had given my talents the time of day? I might have been traditionally published years ago, if I had only believed myself.

Here’s the lingering question: Is it so impossible to believe you might be the brightest mind in the room? 😉

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #18.

We have to stop getting in our own way. I’ve spent the last few days with writers who are more privileged, more highly educated, more widely published, and way more successful than me. But I realized last night that I have no reason to slump my shoulders or downplay my creativity in my conversations with publishing industry professionals. When I tell them what I have accomplished, their eyes go wide with awe and their expression blooms with respect.

There will always be someone smarter out there in the world, but that doesn’t mean we should judge ourselves as less worthy. Before I moved to Michigan, I was approached by the Minnesota Historical Society who asked about working with me to edit a nonfiction book of Aurora legends and mythology. Nervously, I recommended other writers, other storytellers, and talented photographers; and I acted as if I wasn’t qualified enough to be an expert on the subject. I know so many legends and have done so much reading on Aurora culture!

Yet, I don’t have a Ph.D. in Aurora Literature and Mythology — if that exists, let me know and I’ll enroll right away. Just let me get a master’s degree right-quick. Lol… But you know what? I sold myself short that year, and I basically talked my way OUT of the project. Who knows what might’ve happened if I had given my talents the time of day? I might have been traditionally published years ago, if I had only believed myself.

Here’s the lingering question: Is it so impossible to believe you might be the brightest mind in the room? 😉

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #19.

Four years ago, I decided to put myself out there. Really for the first time, I got out into the community and wholeheartedly sought opportunities to share my creative writing on stage and at the mic. I also attended more writers’ events than I had in the past and spent a lot of time mentoring and encouraging other writers and poets in the community.

I love encouraging other writers, and I’ll never stop. Still, it’s been really gratifying to see my involvement in the community come back, twelve-fold. This week, I was invited to see one of our Lansing poets speak, and I was spotted in the crowd by a friend at the MSU Center for Poetry. Other opportunities are continuing to come in behind the scenes, and I’m so thankful for every connection and invitation. When I saw my people out here, of course, I just had to buy a few books from Michigan — even on the ground in Seattle, Washington!

Even in this session right now, we’re hearing how important it is to engage in conversation with other writers. It can be daunting to put yourself out there, but it’s so worth it!

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #20.

No experience is ever lost on a writer. Even the questionable ones. I was really tired tonight after engaging in the writing conference in full gear, and I’ve learned that a lot of the excitement at #AWP23 happens in the evening hours — when published writers, editors and agents gather round to share their favorite work in intimate settings or as part of the night life.

I was tempted to drive straight back to the cabin and focus on preparing for my flight, but I caught word of an event at the Lookout and looked up the location to see if it would easily fit into on my route, after I finished a sunset hike. Without too much effort, I found the Lookout! The bar and grill stands on the corner of a twisty avenue, precariously perched above a rough road with a steep incline, high above the bay. I bet you really could use it as a lookout.

On the way, I also found the Space Needle, jaw dropping views of the Seattle high rises, and enough steep hills and tight parking spaces to convert a commuter wholly to public transit. Not a parking spot in sight!

In the end, I decided I was too exhausted to handle a 10 or 20 block walk to the venue amidst the bustling night life, and I gave up, grabbing dinner in the suburbs. But wow, what a beautiful cruise! I could still appreciate how unique it was, even after I circled the block four times, hopeful I would find a parking garage or a lucky spot. After all, I’ve ventured into the city for off-site events on other nights.

Nothing was lost on me, though. I’ve always wondered what it feels like to cruise the streets of Seattle. Now, I have a new idea for the setting of a story!

(I paused briefly on an empty street to snap a terrible photo of the Space Needle, which is pretty far downhill from the Lookout.)


Writer Insight #21.

You can set your own metric of success. An author at the conference gave some very practical advice to dreamers, especially those who author books. In this industry, she said the goalposts constantly keep moving. First, you set out to finish a novel. Then, you set out to find a literary agent. Then, you set out to sell the book to a publisher. Once the book is published, you promote the book to make it a bestseller. After it’s out in the world, the book can be nominated for prizes, added to prestigious lists, featured in literary festivals, and presented on book tours. If the novel is popular enough, your readers will be eagerly awaiting your second book. And your third. The goalposts never stop moving!

So, here is the author’s advice. On a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, make two columns. In both columns, you can write down your goals — define what success means to you. But in the first column, write down the successes you can control: Finish chapter 10, revise the manuscript, hire a publicist. In the second column, write down your dreams for the project. List the successes that would mean the world to you, even if those are prizes selected by others, highly coveted features on NPR, or making the NY Times Bestseller list.

Work toward the success you can achieve, and keep the dreams in perspective. Most importantly, celebrate every small victory! A career in writing is filled with ups and downs, and you’ll need those moments of fulfillment to sustain you during droughts of rejection and waiting.


Writer Insight #22.

A tiny boy in saggy khakis bounced around in line at airport security, while hundreds of us waited in a standstill. His father played ‘I spy’ with the two kids to keep them entertained. When we got closer to the checkpoint, the father turned to his son and asked “Do you have anything in your pockets?”

“Rocks!” The boy reached his hands deep into his pockets and pulled them out, revealing three rocks the size of a walnut.

“Rocks?” His dad’s cheeks blushed.

The boy’s oblivious excitement made me laugh out loud, and I smiled with admiration at the family, who busily emptied their pockets. The little guy decided it was ok to let these go, and one by one, he set the rocks on the airport floor.

It got me thinking about the rocks in our pockets. How many should we carry with us, and how many should we leave behind? Will people understand the beauty of our experiences and the glacial change we’ve witnessed, if we don’t bring home the rocks from a particular place? Painted with the blue of moving ocean tides, marbled white from the mountains we’ve climbed, and sculpted in golden lines from the bedrock on shore.

It only takes one rock walk to understand how a pocket packed to the seams can really weigh a person down. The theme has echoed today, after I read an article on ”Letting Go.” It’s the story of how one author got everything she hoped for, when she finally stopped holding onto the past.

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #23.

When the week of writing festivities ended, I rushed to the Leap Jeep and drove northwest in pursuit of a phenomenal sunset. I like to end all of my trips with nature, color and light. Deception Bridge was too far, so I wouldn’t get there before dark. Bainbridge Island sounded beautiful, but I didn’t know it would require a ferry ride. Discovery Park stood within reach, but this would be a race.

Game on! In the Compass, I curved through the city streets, hugging the shoreline, while keeping an eye open for gorgeous vistas. There were so many, squeezed in so tight. I drove up a hill to a traffic light, and I gasped in surprise at what I saw above the sound. ‘Jacob’s Ladder.’ The brilliant cascading light soothed my heavy eyes, but it also touched my restless heart.

Not many people know this, but there is one atmospheric phenomenon that makes me feel closer to my late twin brothers than any other. It’s this one. The countless beams of sunlight that cut the clouds and give the horizon a fiery glow. The ladder appeared on the horizon during the week I lost the twins, over 10 years ago, when I needed my beloved brothers most. Ever since, the ladder has allowed me to feel their presence. As if “I could climb a ladder to the stars…”

What’s more, the light broke through here! In Seattle! On this incredible journey! I may not have found the ideal spot in time, but I watched the scene unfold from a great vantage point while I drove the coastline. It was uplifting to see, and it was a serendipitous reminder that Tommy and Lawrence were with me on this adventure. 🥲

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

Writer Insight #24.

The morning in the mountains moved me to tears. On the old railroad route that crosses forested gorges and stone-lined streams, the sun rose in an array of pink, orange, and violet hues. Curls of fog drifted through the fir trees, and mist lifted above the mountain peaks, vanishing into the cool air.

As I drove, the scene flipped by in rapid frames, every second portraying soft shifts in the light, thicker mist on the mountains, or the sun shimmering across the seas. In one hour, I watched a thousand sunrises. I could still hear the murmur of the Skykomish River in my memory. I could still touch the Red Alders of the Cape Flattery Trail with my palm. I could still feel the wind above Multnomah Falls brush my face.

Leaving this magical corner of the world is bittersweet. I will never forget the adventures I took here, the memories I made, and the triumphs I experienced along the way. This place has inspired me in more ways than I could have imagined, and after I went writing in the wild, it gave me the key I need to achieve my dreams.

I am so ecstatic, I literally could not stop crying with all the emotions. My eyes were still soaked when I reached the rental car return!

So. Much. Gratitude.

Writer Insight #25.

Even if you don’t reach the top, when you put your heart, mind and soul into it, you can climb higher than you ever imagined.

On my adventures in the Pacific Northwest, I hiked the trail at Multnomah Falls, winding up the mountain that curls around the 627-foot waterfall. I crossed the gorgeous pedestrian bridge, paused at a caution sign warning of rigorous exercise ahead, and then kept going, following a narrow path along the moss-covered rocks to expansive views of the Columbia River Gorge and a golden evening sky.

In the midst of so much beauty, I became lightheaded. With the anticipation of the drive here, I’d forgotten to eat. My footsteps slowed halfway up the mountain, and the trail ahead faded into hazy beams of sunlight. Even my eyelids grew heavy. That’s when a rainbow arched over the mountains, its vivid colors splitting the difference between the flowing river and the mossy trees. By this time, I was taking deep breaths, slowly and with intention. My trip had already been impossible to fathom, one glorious discovery leading to the next. I was completely beside myself with joy. My breath caught in my chest, and tears tickled the corner of my eyes.

This. Here. Now.

In awe, I held the twisting trunk of a friendly tree to steady me as I contemplated the magnificence of this place, of the world we live in. I whispered a word of thanks to the wilderness. Then I turned, and hiked back down the mountain.

Not only did I realize a dream on that mountain hike, but I exceeded my own expectations. Visiting a waterfall like Multnomah made more sense as an unrealistic flight of fancy, than it did a real moment in my own life. I was disappointed in myself that I couldn’t make it to the top of the mountain. But I was content. It was enough.

This adventure was absolutely life-changing. It was exactly what I needed at a seemingly serendipitous time in my life. Even if I never reach the top, I left the Pacific Northwest instilled with the confidence to keep me climbing for decades to come.

#25writerinsights #writingwild2023

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