Monday, September 3, 2012

The Last One

"All I can say is, it's worth the struggle to discover who you really are and how you, in your own way, can put life together as something that means a lot to you." ~Mister Rogers (whose words are as relevant to me now as they were when I was 5).

This is my last post on Flower Blog.

I turn 30 in just a few short weeks. I am ready for it. And that kind of surprises me. A year ago, the rapidly approaching end of my twenties made me feel slightly queasy as I frantically took stock of where I’d been and where I was going, mentally adding up all the should be’s on my By the Time I Turn 30 List. I asked myself repeatedly what the hell did you do with yourself for the last decade and where are you supposed to be right now?

The answer came to me slowly and not all at once; but it came through loud and clear.

Exactly where you are right. Now.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now
(especially if that place is on top of a mountain).

I spent 29 with that list in the back of my mind, doing everything I could to pull my life together into what it was supposed to be by the time I turn 30. I applied for a job as Development and Marketing Associate with the Vail Symposium, and I got it. I came up with a financial plan to get myself out of debt once and for all so I can travel instead of daydreaming about travel, and so I can stop complaining about not having a car and just buy one already. I ticked some small adventures off my bucket list and did more yoga. I grew comfortable and more confident with myself and found myself enjoying being single, rather than lamenting it.

About a month ago I realized there was nothing left on the list, and not because I had ticked everything off, but because the list simply didn’t exist anymore. I realized I don’t need the deadline of a birthday to accomplish my goals, or any other deadline for that matter. I’m constantly growing and changing, and constantly working toward my goals, and, at any given moment, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

And now, with just a few weeks to go until I turn 30, I feel at peace with leaving behind the (wonderful) chaos of my twenties for a new decade (which I have no doubt will be filled with its own boughts of wonderful chaos).

My twenties have been a heartbreakingly beautiful madness of mistakes and corrections, of lessons and stumbling around searching for answers—much of which has been documented here on Flower Blog.

Six months ago I started feeling stuck with this blog, I lost my motivation to write for it. Every thing I did attempt to write felt forced and generic, and it all started to feel like a chore. This summer I even tried starting a new blog, except it was still Flower Blog, just in a different spot. I deleted it yesterday. It just didn’t work. My frustration has been mounting with it all, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do differently, what to do to make it fun and interesting again. 

Recently it hit me.

It doesn’t work anymore not because it’s broken, but because it has come to the end. Flower Blog has been written. This is the story of my twenties. It is a story that at times I knew I was writing, chronicling adventures and moments from the past, and at times I wrote because it was the only thing I could do to survive in that moment. It’s all here.

Reading back through some of my favorites is like flipping through a scrapbook:

Grandpa Flower (my Grandpa Flower passed away in February. The memories captured in this post are even sweeter to me now than they were when I wrote this post a few years ago.)

Some of these memories are painful to remember, but beautiful in their pain, and so very important to my story:

And a few more snapshots of moments and memories:

I started Flower Blog to hold me accountable to my writing. It certainly did that. I feel more motivated now than ever to write. That I have grown as a writer through writing this is undeniable. I am ready for a new challenge now. Whether that means starting a new blog or finally sitting down to write a book, or both, I’m not sure. But I am sure that I will keep writing, and I will continue to share my words. Thank you for finding me here, and for reading. It has been a pleasure to have you on this journey with me. Until we meet again (and I certainly hope that we do), cheers.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

What I'm Not and Other Mini Confessions

by Tracey Flower

It’s a new year. 2012 has arrived. It’s only Week 1 but so far it’s feeling pretty good.

As I was mulling over my options for resolutions this year, I stumbled on this post (Jenny Blake Inspires—White Lies) by Grace Boyle at Small Hands, Big Ideas and it inspired me to take a different direction when it comes to personal reflection in 2012.

There are things about myself I worked on in 2011; there were goals I worked toward, and some I even achieved. There are things I want to work on in 2012; I suppose we can call them resolutions. The thing is, though, there are always things in my life I want to work on or work toward. I talk about them here every now and then, and check in with myself on a regular basis to see how I'm going.

What I don’t often talk about are my flaws, the quirks and faults that make me ME. Charming or annoying as they may be, they are mine and, rather than resolve to change or fix them this year, I want to share them and embrace them, because quite frankly, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I can do to be rid of them, and I’m certain there is strength to be gained in accepting them. So here are 6 mini confessions by yours truly.

1. I’m not a very good snowboarder. Nor am I a very good athlete in general. Never have been. This is not to say I’m not fond of sports and things athletic and adventurous—I love being outside and participating in outdoor activities—I just have no aptitude for athletic stuff. I live in the largest ski resort in North America (Vail), also the fittest county (Eagle) in the country, snowboarding and skiing are kind of a big deal here. Athletic success in adventure and endurance sports is valued here. I try many of these sports. I’m not very good at a single one. I’m regularly wracked with insecurity because of it.

2. I’M A LOUD TALKER. So is my dad. I’ll just go ahead and blame that one on him.

3. I’m a neat freak. Not to be confused with a germaphobe. I don’t obsessively wash my hands or over-sanitize. It’s more to do with liking things a certain way—everything in my house and my workspace has its place, and I don’t like it when things aren’t in their place. I like things clean and tidy. You know Monica on "Friends?" It’s kind of (exactly) like that.

4. I’m not totally OK with being single. I’m lonely. I’m not in any rush to be married. Nor am I yearning for a family—I’m not even sure I want children. I just want a partner. Don’t get me wrong; I am not unhappy with my single life. I have a very fulfilling life with a promising future—I know what I want from my life and for myself and I’m fully prepared to go after all if it even if it’s just me on my own. If I'm single for 10 more years, or even for all of my years, I’m sure I will die content and happy, having traveled and written and lived. I’m not in a desperate hunt to acquire a boyfriend; I’m just recognizing that this loneliness exists. I’m also not trying to fill it with anything other than companionship. If it never gets filled, I can live with that, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally OK with it.

5. I don’t drive. I know how to drive. I have a driver’s license. I am fully capable of operating a motor vehicle, but I prefer not to. The last time I drove was in May (2011), the time before that was the previous May (2010). I should note that I don’t own a car (for financial reasons) and, while I admit that I often wish I could afford to own one so I could enjoy the freedom that comes with being able to take oneself anywhere on no one else’s schedule, I hate driving and it makes me terribly nervous. Oh, I also find it impossible to stay awake as a passenger in a moving car. I’m usually out cold within the first 15-20 minutes. Yes, I’m that person.

6. I’m a chronic (champion) procrastinator. For the record I’ve never met a writer who isn’t. It goes like this: I have a chunk of time that has been set aside for writing, that should, for all purposes be used for writing, but the deadline is still another day or two away, or at the very least a few hours away. I sit down to write and crank out a title or a sentence then—wait!—I should probably sweep the kitchen floor (see number 3) or shop for curtains online or OH MY! that’s a big bird outside my window, I should probably take a photo.

Whew! That felt good. Your turn.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Take a Chance (or at the very least think about it)

by Tracey Flower

November was a weird month (and the first half of December too). An off month. A lost month. I didn’t write, not here and not enough, at least not for my own self. I did plenty of writing for the Vail Symposium’s winter brochure, which I absolutely loved doing, and to be honest I can’t go blaming my lack of posting on that. There’s really not much to blame it on, it was just a weird month and I just didn’t write.

But I’m back now and that’s what counts, right?

As I write this and look back at November, while safely tucked away into December, I shake my head at that month, and at myself in that month. I worried a lot in November. I worried about work and not having enough of it. I scraped the bottom of the barrel financially and ran on fumes. I worried about that. I fretted over my weight and over my complexion. I worried about finding a place to live as the December 1st expiration date on my summer residence approached. Once my roommate and I found a fabulous new place to live (that makes numbers 10 and 11 if you’re keeping track) I worried about how I was ever going to afford it.

Whew. That’s a lot of worry.

I don’t think I really realized how much of it I was carrying around, however, until I got a phone call the other day regarding a part time job prospect. See I’ve realized the only way I’m going to pull myself up from my financial rock bottom, the only way I’m going to afford my fabulous new place is by obtaining extra employment. But I’ve been worried extra employment won’t leave me enough time to balance all the things I love in my life.

Lately, worry has been showing up everywhere.

In that phone call I was presented with an opportunity for part time work that I can do in my own time, something I can balance with everything else I care about. I hung up the phone and felt unbelievably light. I felt dizzy with relief and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized just how much of a burden I had put on myself with all that worry.

As I was reveling in my relief, and shaking my head at myself for being so so silly, the guy came to clean the beer lines—I should mention here that I was at work, at my full time job bartending on Vail Mountain. Now, I should know this guy’s name by now, I’ve known him for years and he comes several times a season to clean and rinse the beer lines, but I’m terrible with names and that’s that.

We chatted about summer, about how it was and wasn’t, and how it’s always too short around here. He asked where I worked this summer, which prompted what has become a regular monologue on how discouraged I have become with the employment opportunities in the Valley, how I need something consistent for summers, or better yet, a year-round job. How I’ve thought about moving to Boulder in a year or two, but that I love living up here and if I did make that move, at least in the next couple years, it would likely be career-oriented. I babbled on and on, stopping when I realized I had gone from sharing to complaining.

The Beer Line Guy then told me that 10 years ago he had been in my shoes, bartending in Steamboat Springs, moaning about the exact same things. Feeling stuck. So he decided to take a chance and make a change. He started his beer line cleaning business (and whatever else it is his business does, I’m not totally clear on the details) and it turned out to be a smashing success. His advice to me, take a chance.  Make a move. You know what you want so do it.

Hmmmmmm. Beer Line Guy has a point.

Then I went to a yoga class in which the instructor told me the exact same thing, take a chance. You have the power inside you. Just take. A. Chance.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this advice yet, what chance to take or where to go with my dreams. But I’m thinking about it. I’m thinking about it a lot.

So that’s where I am after all that worry and at the end of 2011. Ready to bid adieu to the sweet year that was and welcome in a new one warmly. Ready to see what comes up and what chances are mine for the taking in 2012.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Southern Colorado Spectacular

by Tracey Flower

There is so much I want to share with you, my lovely readers, about a five-day road trip through Southwestern Colorado with four fantastic friends I took a couple weeks ago. And, over time, I'm sure I'll write it all. In the meantime, here's a few of my favorite shots. While it was a great time with good friends, the sights alone could have made the trip.

Below: Fairplay/Historic South Park City, Downtown Salida, San Luis Valley at sunset, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Hesperus Mountain (sacred to the Navajo)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

DemoCATS, Peace Signs and UFOs

by Tracey Flower

We had just passed through Fairplay and were making our way through the windy mountain roads leading to Alamosa and the San Luis Valley when my friend Dave, who had been immersed in a Colorado atlas for a spell, said, “we should turn left up ahead and check out Guffey.”


“Because I’m pretty sure the mayor is a cat.”

It was a good enough reason for the rest of us.

We didn’t regret the decision. The photos alone were worth the stop.

Greetings from Guffey, CO

Guffey was just one of the many mountain towns we (myself and four fantastic friends) toured on a five-day road trip throughout Southwestern Colorado a couple weeks ago. Guffey was the only one (to our knowledge) to boast a feline government official (for real, guys, check it out) but many of those tucked away communities had a similar look and feel; that of being ancient and un-touched, fossilized in the rock of the mountains that surround and protect them from progress and modernization, and I mean that in the best possible way. They’re charming and historical, and each one left us marveling (and, on occasion, in stitches giggling) at the quirks that make each of these towns oh so unique, and curious about the folks who call them home. 

We stumbled on one of these little towns and ended up camping there for a couple nights. Crestone, CO. Ever heard of it? Neither had we. 

Dave spied it on his trusty atlas while searching for a campsite near the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It’s in the San Luis Valley, which lies between the Sangre de Christo and San Juan mountain ranges.

Crestone sort of appears out of nowhere. The San Luis Valley covers nearly 8,000 square miles, and is therefore the most expansive stretch of flat land in that part of Colorado, and, after living in the Vail Valley where everything is straight up up up (or down down down depending on the sport), the most flat land any of us had seen in awhile. We drove and drove along those never-ending roads, past agricultural fields, signs for Colorado Gators Reptile Park and the 10 foot tall UFO look-out stand (because, you know, you can spy those things SO much better from 10 feet off the ground). We were starting to doubt Dave’s navigation skills, and the existence of Crestone altogether, when we took a turn and suddenly, nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Christos was Crestone, Colorado.

Crestone is a statutory town in Saguache County in Southwestern Colorado, United States. The population was 73 at the 2000 census. It is a small village at the foot of the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Range, in the northern part of the San Luis Valley. Crestone was a small mining town, but little paying ore was discovered. In the 1970s, a large land development, the Baca Grande, was established to the south and west and several hundred homes have been built.
The Crestone area, which includes the Baca Grande and Moffat, Colorado, is a spiritual and new age center with several world religions represented, including: a Hindu temple, a Zen center, a co-ed Carmelite monastery, several Tibetan centers, and miscellaneous New Age happenings.
As we drove through the town, making our way to the National Forest Service campground which lies about ¾ of a mile north of the town center (and is lush, private and tidy), my friend Claire noted to her husband Marshall that a pedestrian had just given her the finger. Marshall corrected her, “I think that was a peace sign.”

Indeed it was.

Crestone has an uncanny wacky old hippie vibe. Unlike some of the other small mountain towns we happened upon on our journey it felt purposely hidden, as if only those who really want and need it will find it.

On our second day there, Dave fell into a conversation with a man wearing a tie-dyed shirt with wild white hair and a beard to match who told him the first time he came to Crestone he had a spiritual experience and, as a result, decided to never leave. He didn’t elaborate on the details of that experience, but did add that if we ever found ourselves back in that obscure little town, we, too, would stay forever.

Now, I don’t believe crystals hold any magical power, nor do I understand the how’s and why’s behind New Agey-mysticism. But there was a definite palpable feeling of spirituality in that place, of the presence of something BIGGER, of God, in the vast beauty surrounding that place, in the majesty of the Sangre de Christos looking down on it. It was a feeling that touched each of us and permeated the trip, creating a definite communal vibe among us that lasted for the duration of our holiday, and held on even after we returned home to Vail.

It was the most refreshing, cleansing and unifying trip I’ve been a part of in a long time. Was that solely the influence of Crestone? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was just us; five friends who count one another as family coming together on the eve of a big change (another story for another time, my friends), determined to savor a few precious, fleeting moments, and take in the views along the way.

This post is dedicated to my friend Dave. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Golden Gloriousness

by Tracey Flower

A little September bonus post to celebrate my favorite season. I hiked to Deluge Lake in East Vail a few days ago. The lake is pristine and nestled into the Gore Range; it's only 4 miles from the trailhead to the lake, with a 3,400 ft. elevation gain from bottom to top. My leg strength was tested but I was rewarded generously for my efforts along the way with sweeping vistas of Golden Gore Range Gloriousness. Marvel with me.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

A New Season

by Tracey Flower

It’s that time of year again. Fall. The Vail Valley is glowing with it. It’s a new season, and my favorite one at that.

A new season means time for fresh starts. I love this time of year for that. Life in Vail is lived season to season, and for many of us here the end of a summer or winter season means the end of one job and the start of a new one. This can be, at times, a very frustrating way of life; no one makes much money here and there’s always a pause when one job ends and another begins, a few weeks with no work, no income.

There’s also beauty in that pause. There’s always a moment to travel, to relax, to slow down and, especially in fall, time to squeeze in all your favorite summer activities just one last time before the snow settles in for the next eight months.

There’s also time to reflect and refresh before the next major season (that would be summer or winter around here) starts. Time to prepare for the fresh start that a new season brings. I relish this time and always appreciate the opportunity to start anew.

Fall also marks a new year in my life. I celebrated my last twenty-something birthday (gulp) a week ago. 

I don’t get overly anxious about aging; there’s nothing I can do about it and the alternative to aging is, well, death, so I’ll just go ahead and get older thank you very much. BUT there is something intimidating about 30, and something daunting about coming into the last year of my twenties.

It’s that 30 sounds grown-up. Not old. Just adult. Bonafide grown-up. Like maybe I should have my life together somehow by then.

I doubt I will.

And I’m sure a year from now I’ll find a way to be OK with that.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to take this moment to share some goals I have for myself for the next year, things to work toward in this new season (and things to achieve before the big 3-0).

  1. I want to go to Africa a year from now. There are a billion places I want to travel to. Africa is at the top of that list. It’s been awhile since I planned and ventured out into the world on an epic trip. So there you have it. I’m saving my pennies. Countries and dates to come.
  2. I want to expand my professional skills and knowledge by taking some professional development courses at Colorado Mountain College. Specifically those pertaining to social media and Internet marketing. As much as I love new seasons and fresh starts, it would be kind of great to have the same job year-round (and kind of great, too, if that job didn’t involve serving beverages). Taking some classes can’t hurt my chances of finding such a position, right?
  3. I want to (learn) to cook more. I heaved a big sigh as I wrote that. This has been a goal of mine for the last several years and, to be honest, seems slightly un-attainable. I love food. I don’t love cooking or spending time in the kitchen. But I’d at least really like to gain some more skills in that area, to have some level of competence in the kitchen and maybe, just maybe, develop an appreciation for the art of it. Encouragement and/or advice on how to go about this is appreciated. 

There they are, just a few humble goals. There’s a handful of others I’m tossing around and considering at the moment as well, but these three are my favorites. I’ll enjoy seeing where they take me and what else comes up along the way.

Cheers, my lovely readers, here’s to a new season!