I’m back

20 March 2018

It is lunchtime on a Tuesday and as I sit here at Starbucks sipping a coffee with almond milk (because I took up coffee – particularly espresso – last year and haven’t been able to turn back), I can’t help but laugh a little. I thought it’d be wise to reflect a bit and put down some of my thoughts onto paper. Why? Well, my birthday is Thursday. Thursday, I will be 28 years old. It’s kind of a weird age I think because there is such a dichotomy in where people are in their lives at 28 years old. I’ve got friends from high school who are married, who have a child… or multiples, who have jobs they call their career. All of these things are great, but I also have friends who are still finding themselves, following their passions, and figuring out where they want to be. I think I somewhat fall into the gray area of this whole realm.

I have lived so many lives already; seen so many sunrises and sunsets from so many points on the globe. I’ve climbed mountains, swam oceans and rivers, done volunteer work in slums at the equator line in Africa, and splashed with penguin and dolphin near the Antarctic. Life has given me love – with family, with friends, and in the very few relationships I’ve opened myself to fully, it has given me love as well as heartbreak. It has taught me strength, perseverance, and acceptance. I am grateful, very grateful. Though I did not imagine I’d be sitting at Starbucks two days before my 28th birthday thinking about what to do next.

Let me preface, I finally started a job in November that I thought was THE job. I love the industry, I love the connections I was making, I love every aspect of what the job entailed. Despite the enormous good, it was not the right situation… I’ll leave it at that. Anywho, I follow a good amount of social media accounts that got me thinking. For years as I traveled (you’ll see old posts from when I initially started this blog site) people suggested I become a blogger – my passion for writing, for travel, and for adventure would be able to share middle ground. I never thought possible but now I think why not. Granted, I’m going to have to learn how to focus in more on specific topics or themes because I can have a tendency to cover too many bases.

To save you from my rambles any longer (for now), here it is. This is where I’m going get back to me; where I am going to share my travels in hopes they offer you insights, my adventures and swimming endeavors in hopes they offer you inspiration, and maybe some healthful posts including food or exercise as therein lies one of my other biggest passions. I hope you can appreciate that in revamping and recreating this site, I’m rediscovering myself. I know that each experience leads us to the next and there will always be more good to come. So I continue to take on the world, know that your follow is appreciated and welcomed. Also while you’re at it, follow me on IG: @dseacliff for more of the adventures.

Now don’t mind me, I’ll just be sitting here day dreaming of my next trip back to Hawaii…

Maui • March 2018

A Reoccurring Theme

30 September 2015

Okay, so admittedly it is actually kind of funny that the general topic of this post is very much related to my previous most recent post. Funny to me anyway, because though it was not intentional, it is a topic where I frequently find myself head-to-head. I wrote a little poem today that came from a place of disappoint, of gratitude, and of pleasure. Bizarre mix, I know. Here’s the quick synopsis: after finishing an amazing swim this morning with people of whom I genuinely admire as people in all aspects of personhood, I ran in to someone I have know/who has known me for probably about 12-14 years. During the albeit brief exchange I had with this person, they instantly crashed the morning high I had just earned. How did they do this? A face of judgement. We may have exchanged no more than 30 words in total between the two of us, yet they said and reacted so perfectly as to bring me down because of their negativity and lack of acceptance for a perspective that differed from their own. I don’t dig that. As I got in my car and sat for a moment instantly doubting myself in reaction to her disapproval, I quickly snapped back and realized the importance of positivity and perspective. I feel sorry that this person, amongst others, believe it’s okay to judge one on THEIR actions simply because the actions are not of their own personal norm. Remembering how much I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had because of the choices I’ve made, the places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met that I wouldn’t change for anything, this is what instantly snapped me out of that ever so quick moment out self doubt. I hope you all are able to remember to totally own your choices and be proud of the path you’ve created for yourself. Sometimes I forget this in the midst of constant disapproval but when taking that deep breath and allowing myself to feel joy in the life I’ve created, it is really wonderful. If you forget, I hope you let yourself remember. 

Alright, so quick vent sesh over. Sorry… Didn’t mean to go hippy-preach mode on you, but you get the guist. No judgement, just big smiles, please and thank you. 

Bottom line, I was inspired by this off kilter encounter and so I wrote a little something that went like this (and similar to some of my  previous poems, the format seems to always get funky…just accept it):

Life’s Trip

4000 meticulous miles

98 day old car

5000 

6000

just three months old

where have we been? 

where will we go?

The road is wide, the road is curvaceously long

the wheels turn, but the mind travels

constantly yearning for new dirt beneath my feet 

that’s what sets my pace

the going

a destination is a place you end

so, I have no destination

because I keep going 

my wandering eyes don’t want to stay 

they crave the unseen

my feet move faster than the wheels

their hunger grows in each step

my soul feeds on the structure of daily ambiguity

yet, I have a plan 

that plan is a rest stop

on my road of continued motion

but they see instability

they dare not accept their unknown

and they cannot accept mine

I live for the next adventure

they turn off at the rest stop

my wheels move forward 

the next fantastical place beckons

the next succinct, yet paradoxically momentous, interaction between strangers awaits the alignment of the stars

me and whomever I encounter

life is a journey

it is beautiful unrehearsed experience

a ride on this road is left untaken 

when the unknown hinders your soul

my soul is free

  

Cold Sweet Cold

I keep saying how I want to be better at posting more. I never finished writing about Honduras, nor did I finish my Iceland posts. Maybe I will get back to them at some point, but for now as I find myself sitting in my new apartment in Charleston, I was inspired going through pictures of Argentina. I wrote a poem today influenced greatly by my experience at the glacier. I can’t reiterate enough how wonderful it is to find yourself with a group of people who not only make you feel endless love but who offer you a sense of belonging. I’m grateful for my marathon swim family but my cold water swim family has taken me somewhere completely different, somewhere I love so deeply for its uniqueness. Here is my poem (please excuse the language, I don’t often curse but the water sometimes does that to a person), inspired by my time spent in the waters of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. It didn’t transfer quite right so imagine a break between each third line (ugh).

  

 

A Glacial Love Affair


The cold burns as you dip that first toe

A little bit further you slide the other toes in, then the foot

“What the fu*k am I doing?” you whisper to yourself

Slowly the water separates and invites you in

It clings to your epidermis as you accept its invitation

Into the frigid water

The temperature plays on the line of freezing

Your breath quickens; your body tightens

“Fu*k!” you quietly scream

No mercy is shown for he who tempts nature’s chilly pool

As the pain grows, so does the smile creeping on your face

How could you not love this pain?

When Mother Nature offers herself

Raw, cold, and unyielding

You must embrace her, for her beauty is innocent

Your entire body is submerged in the icy water

Your heart beats faster

Oh, to know you are alive!

Further in you slither

She drinks you as if nothing were more planned

Then to be here in this place, now

Your chest, your neck, your head

They sink below the door of the surface

The numbness sets in as the smile grows

It’s time to breathe

Your head breaks her wall

As your hands stab through

All you need to do is move forward

Just touch the other side

And then you can end this pain

But why would you want to?

Your muscles swim by memory

As your body is too cold to be meticulous

When you reach the other side

The smile is the only thing everyone around you sees

The real pain has only just begun

Getting out of that glacial water is necessary

But you know within

That water is where you are at home

🙂

Iceland Day Six

1 April 2015 

Happy April Fools, ya fools! 🙂

Today was by far the most incredible scenic span of road we’ve driven thus far on this trip. We left our little Laekjarkot home in the mountains just outside of Borganes and headed toward Stykkishólmur. The drive was about two and a half hours but along the way there were a few fjords to check out, amongst beautiful black sand beaches. We took the long road that follows the coast line of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula because it was meant to be a beautiful drive. Well, it would have been if we were able to see the road! I was at the wheel for this leg and we had TOTAL white out conditions. Remember how I mentioned that Iceland and Florida have weather condition (despite temperature) similarities? Yeah, proof once again. The snow and winds were so intense that we couldn’t see five feet in front of us – we could barely see the car on our tail. Sorry buddy, I wasn’t in a rush to drive where I couldn’t see. Anywho, check it out… 

   

Once we got in to the mountains the wind calmed down a bit. Our next challenge was the curvy unplowed (seldom, at least) road that stretched the middle of nowhere.  

   

We came across these neat little pockets of river playing peek-a-boo through the snow. 

   

    

Until we finally saw water once again.  

 

When we got to the shore line we discovered the most magical black sand beaches. I’ve read of these beaches in Hawai’i but never had the chance to see them. Wow!

   

   

   

     

Every stretch along the way from here to our little town for the night was jaw dropping; the churches, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the fjords. 




      

  

     

These views don’t get old. We were so excited to see our first fjord! I mean, can you beat this gorgeous piece of Mother Nature goodness?!

   

We arrived to Stykkishólmur a bit earlier than our check in time at the hostel so we explored what the town had to offer. Now, this is a big town here in Iceland. Many told us not to miss it so we intentionally stayed the night here. Fifteen minutes after arrival we had seen it all! Ha. It’s yet another beautiful spot, don’t get me wrong! Probably one of our favorites. 

   

  

See that little red dot in the top right corner of the picture above? That’s a light house – remember that for later in this post. 

 

I found the famous rye bread in a little bakari (bakery) they make here. The woman in the shop told me they cook the bread for twenty four hours and in empty milk cartons. So neat! Mom, I will try to bring home an authentic recipe. SO good. 

  

We got a recommendation for a yummy restaurant for dinner and it just so happened to be about 8 steps from our hostel’s back door (size perspective of town). Of course the entire menu was seafood based. Do you know me? If you do, you know I don’t eat seafood. I put on my big girl pants and tried the fish burger made with a fresh cod they caught locally. Alex had a bunch of mussels and then spoon fed her self the sauce. She loved her meal; I did not. But that’s okay! I tried it, and I am beyond sure that anyone with an appreciative palate for seafood would have loved it! 

 

 

We can’t figure out if eating at 7:30 pm is equivalent to the early bird special (sunset isn’t till ~9 pm right now) or if there just aren’t enough people around to make a restaurant look full. Great spot though! And primo local brews! 🙂 

    

Once we finished dinner and dessert, we literally ran (I mean it – literally!) out the door and through the docks, across the harbor, and up a big hill to catch the last moment of the sun’s flirting colors as they submerged below in to the oceans blue. Remember that red light house a few photos ago? Yeah, that’s what we RAN up to after stuffing our faces. Wise decision? Maybe not. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. 

 

  

  

  

  

Still not regretting being somewhere warm x

Iceland Day Five; We Meant To Do That

31 March 2015

“That” being sleep an hour and a half past our alarm then drive an additional eight hours than intended (kind of) today. 

Let’s start with how last night ended – frozen hair in the hot tub and discussing the Northen Lights with our new friends from London. We saw one while we were all getting to know each other, though it’s probably debatable as it also may have just been a cloud. It was another beautiful night regardless. The man at the desk told us all he would give us a wake up call if the lights danced in the sky through the night but we never got that call. 

So as I mentioned we got moving a little late, we hit the road by 7:45. Our planned direction this morning initially was supposed to bring us back up a bit North of Reykavik but multiple people told us that making that extra stretch east along the southern coast toward Jökulsarlon to see the Glaciers was worth it sk that’s what we did. The driving was insane at points along the road – super strong winds and covered in ice. Alex maneuvered the speaker system and set up our iPhones with Bluetooth so we could jam out…to Christmas music. Ha. Anywho, check out this drive – we saw some glaciers along the way too: 

   

 

Baby volcano.

   

Glaciers we are going to be climbing Saturday.         

My new friend with four legs. 

This view from our guesthouse tonight is beautiful. Like everything else. Even if we did drive past the street three times. 

           

Iceland Day Four; Not Lost in Iceland

30 March 2015

The alarm went off and we hit snooze. 6:30 felt too early, so we decided 7:30 would feel better. It did. After breakfast we said goodbye to Ingi, our Igdlo host who was beyond hospitable. The car rental facility picked us up and we got our wheels for the week.

 

 I’m very purple today. Bye, Reykavik!

  

We hit the road toward PING PARK and got lost in the frozen tundra… but not really. It was breath taking – reminded me of a road trip I took out in the Western US with my grandfather and his older brother when I was in high school. Alex and I were warned about the winds on Golden Circle road but only realized just what everyone meant when we made our first stop. 

     

The map nearly flew out the window. We drove in a bit further and found a beautiful lake. Of course, my immediate reaction was how I wanted to jump in. Then I got out of the car. Brr!!!

   

         

 

As we continued down the road through the park to the town of Geysir to see one of the largest natural geysers in the world, we had the parking karma gods in our favor (this a very busy site), we rushed out of the car to catch a glimpse. Wow! How neat. Alex has seen geysers before and being that she is a earth science teacher, she taught me about the pressure build up under the very thin crust. A handy travel companion in a place like this 🙂 

   

      

I have some awesome photos on my camera of this, but since I’m doing this blog 100% from my phone you’ll have to know me to see those back home. You need to see this. All of you! You must see Iceland. 

We followed the one main road and a whole bunch of roundabouts to a small town called Hella where we are staying for the night – we splurged, $40 each for a hotel instead of a hostel. Man oh man was this worth it! Stracta Hotel is insanely fresh. That’s a good thing. It opened last summer so everything still feels new and smells of fresh wood (again, it’s a good thing). We ate a quick snack of cheese and crackers then headed in to their hot tub and sauna for the evening. 

   

        

Check out our view from this place, just a few volcanoes. One ready to erupt any day now. No big deal. 

   

  

Oh, and our room number matched my swim cap I packed. Meant to be. 

 

Alex had a yummy fish soup for dinner (her second fish of the day) made with fish caught across the street. I had a bar and a gerber sweet  potato squeeze. Well balanced meals, ha. The wonderful woman who works here gave us a little treat sampler. Wish we knew her name but when Alex asked she said its a typical Icelandic name that’s too hard to pronounce. 

 

Hot tub again now, then bed. Early up to explore the icebergs! 🙂 

The Game of Life

3 October 2014

Have you ever experienced that feeling that the way things play out in life, though far from what you had planned, are in fact the way they were meant to be all along? I feel that way recently.

I had plans. Well, I had a plan. A plan to move, to set out on a new adventure in a new town with new people and new experiences. It is amazing how quickly things can turn around and stray so far from the set path. The change I experienced was for the better though, it was a final hour quick decision to make but I believe it’s really been for the best. I canceled my plans to move and accepted a full time position in a field of my interest.

My life has taken a quick 360, as my good friend pointed out to me the other night over dinner. As have many others. It’s a 360 that I know will be for the best in my future, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I was handed.

Frank Turner – a British singer – has a song called Photosynthesis. It begins like this:

Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

I feel he just puts it in to perspective so perfectly. Photosynthesis is undeniable with time, yet despite the changes one can always retain their original self. I’ve made fast new changes recently in my life but my photosynthesis is forever ongoing and I treasure that trait within myself.

Funny what life does to a person. It will always offer the good as long as one is willing to embrace the change that it may cause. I have pure gratitude for the people in my life, the experiences I’ve had, and the bumps in the road along the beginning of a much longer ride.

Take a chance. Embrace change. Appreciate the good in your life. & Love. Sweet dreams, world!