nature enjoyment

Stop and See

I was on my usual power hike through Forest Park on Saturday. I caught up with my sister on the phone on the way up to the view on top of the hill. It was a lovely conversation, one that ended with a pep talk to each other…a reminder to take the time we need for ourselves.

My sister is a mother of four. While I don’t have kids, I’ve gone through quite a few changes these past months that I didn’t know were coming. And, it has made the time both challenging and wonderful.

husband and wife company

After many years of trying to figure this out, Mr. H and I finally started our own business together. It’s called Superneat Marketing. Some people crack a smile at the name and others roll their eyes. But, like any business, there is a reason we came up with that name.

Neatness has been in our family for a long time. When we make a toast, it’s: “To neatness.”

It’s pretty much the highest compliment you can get in our house—if someone is having a bad day or you want to tell them how much you love them, we say to each other: “Well, I think you’re superneat.”

superneat marketing

Already our clients are using the term and we love that. But more than anything we love helping these awesome small businesses grow, because they are often the underserved population with marketing consultants and agencies.

It’s very rad to help them out, and it’s superneat working side-by-side with Mr. H.

moving is tough

The other cuckoo thing that happened as we were launching our website…we moved. In two weeks. Mr. H and I were crawling all over each other in the glorified studio we lived in for three years, so it was time for a much needed upgrade.

As you may have heard, rents in Portland have been pretty outrageous with the population explosion. We decided to be smart about it—especially with the mega life changes already happening—and worked with our apartment building to transfer units.

balcony wine

We had to hustle to get an upgrade deal that wouldn’t do us in, hence the two weeks. And even though it was only a move down the hall, up one floor, and down another hall…it was still a move.

But, the cats are good and we’re good. Plus…balcony and a happy marriage!

backbend with cat

After a three-year hiatus, I started teaching yoga again. I’m sticking with subbing for now and taking it slow. I found an amazing studio here in Portland called The People’s Yoga. Their mission is to offer yoga to everybody, regardless of economic barriers. I dig it and I’m very proud to teach there.

Lastly, I’ve been writing A LOT for other publications.

I became a regular contributor for ClearVoice, which is an awesome place for me to nerd out on content. My writer friends will find this interview with Kristen Lamb interesting, Humans Are Wired to Remember the Story.

I also started realizing a dream of mine of becoming a travel writer. What started with several millennial-esque travel blogs on VIVA Lifestyle & Travel morphed into opportunities at Intrepid Travel. They value sustainable travel culturally and environmentally—very much Britt’s speed.

intrepid travel writer

I remember writing my first piece on a Sunday, and it was a toughie that was all about the power of a ban to make a positive impact. I had to do a lot of research about animal rights and pretty much cried through the entire piece.

But, I felt honored to write about such an important topic and it was beyond cool to see it shared widely on social.

bar silhouette

Phew!

This morning as I’m sitting here in my robe before work, I feel like it’s a damn miracle that I’m even writing a blog post. It got so hard to do this, something that used to be so simple.

As many of you longtime bloggers can understand, sometimes you hit a wall. Not writer’s block, it’s more like being blocked by life.

I always say you have to be in a very specific state of mind to do this thing called writing. You don’t have to be on cloud nine or anything, but you have to at least be able to free yourself from distractions long enough to sit your ass in the chair and throw down some words.

When life changes? That adds a very thick layer you have to push through.

I was recently talking to my good blogger friend (and kindred spirit), Julie of Les Petits Pas de Juls, on WhatsApp. She asked me how my book was going and I said…slowly. But, I’m thankful it’s still going in some form.

I told her I had been writing so much for other people that I was struggling to write for myself. And, I’m hoping to make more time after I clear my head on a rad trip we have coming up next week.

blogging friends

Last year I vowed to meet more bloggers in person, and I was fortunate to meet Jilanne in San Francisco. Next I’m thrilled to see Julie, who runs a beach bar with her husband on Holbox Island.

“Slow” is the word there, and I love that. Because “fast” has been too much of a word for me lately. I’m looking forward to hanging with Julie and allowing her to remind me of the sweeter, beautiful things I’ve been glossing over too much in life.

We decided to bookend the trip to see Julie with two places Mr. H and I have dreamed about…Mexico City and Cuba. Being the geek that I am, my main inspiration for going to these places is to see Frida’s house and Martha Gellhorn’s house (who many would refer to as Hemingway’s house, Finca Vigia.)

Both Frida and Gellhorn have been heroes of mine for a long time. Being able to walk in the same places as these women is magnificent. I’m excited to drink in the culture of both of these places and see what kind of inspiration I come home with.

portland forest

Anyway, the dust has started settling a bit and I felt this incredible sense of peace in the forest last weekend. On my way back home I was about to put my headphones in to listen to music when I stopped myself.

I wanted to listen to the birds. I wanted to listen to the trees in the wind. I wanted to hear the children’s laughter. The whole reason I was hiking in the first place was to unplug. Yet, I struggled with it. I still had that urge to multitask.

So, I did something I’ve never done before in the three years I’ve hiked that same route. I stopped on a bench and stared at the trees. I laid on the bench for about a half hour. And, it was glorious.

forest time

Groups of people passed me from time to time, and one older gentleman made me smile when he said: “Somebody’s got the right idea.”

The nice thing about this bench is that it’s up higher on the hill, so it’s not nearly as crowded as other parts of the trail—even on the weekend. So there were times when it was just me on the bench. Just me and the birds.

After a while they accepted me, because I was one of the quiet and still humans—an anomaly they aren’t used to seeing, I’m sure.

 

Did you know birds sing the most extraordinary song when they think nobody else is around? I didn’t. I felt lucky and grateful to be the only one in that audience, in that front row seat to nature’s stage.

All I had to do was stop and see. It shouldn’t be that hard. I’m going to do more of it.

49 thoughts on “Stop and See

  1. Letizia says:

    So many exciting adventures happening right now. Great that you’re reminding yourself to take time to sit and enjoy the moment as well. Love the term “superneat” hehe.

  2. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    Hey lovely! So glad to finally see you soon and spend great time together in real life! I wish you a fabulous time with Frida and Gellhorn too! I missed Gellhorn in Cuba bit loved visiting Hemingway’s house in Key West in 2013!
    I hope to be a good guide to you in Holbox and I’m happy to have another good reason to take it easy on the island with you!

    Thanks for the shout out, too!
    Best of everything for you 2, at the new house (wow! A balcony!!) and with Superneat! Love that name! It makes me smile, in a very good way! 😊😊😊

    Hugs, beautiful lady who know how to listen to the birds…. xoxoxox

  3. Sean P Carlin says:

    Hey, Britt!

    Whether you move across the street or across the country (and I’ve done both), distance is irrelevant — you still have to pack everything you own into a box!

    As for that “writing state of mind,” I couldn’t agree more: We do need to be in a certain “creative zone” in order to write effectively. For me, it’s like a dream state, and being interrupted is akin to being suddenly awoken: For a moment, I’m disoriented and grumpy.

    Recently, I was actually having a really hard time finding time to write amidst all my other responsibilities, and, as fate would have it, I read Lauren Graham’s new book Talking as Fast as I Can, where she outlines a really effective (and startlingly simple) method to reclaim your writing time from all the little pop-up distractions, whereby you spend less time writing but are way more productive. I wrote about it here, if you’re interested.

    Glad to hear you’re so busy and prosperous!

    Sean

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      TOTALLY, Sean! A move is definitely a move, no matter what. But this was a hell of a lot easier than the cross-country one we did a few years ago with the cats. I can still hear their cat whines in my sleep! 😉

      Definitely feel that about writing…well said. I feel like such a grump most of the time and I’ve certainly been called antisocial more than I can count. Oh, well!

      I would LOVE to check out that book…thanks! I’ll scoot over to your blog as well.

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Seems an exciting time for you Britt, new and renewed interests and projects, reaching out from behind previous constraints. It all goes to keep you young, fresh and enthusiastic. Pleased to hear you’re well and happy.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It’s crazy cool, Roy. That’s the best way I can describe this time. Excited for things to ease up a bit, so I can digest the experience and channel that into my writing.

      Hope you’re doing well! Missed Mr. McCarthy! 😉

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    So many changes for you both, but how exciting to start a new business together. Best of luck with it as well as with your new writing work. I enjoyed your interview with Kristen Lamb. I’m glad you’re still taking some time for yourself though. With your fingers in so many pies, you deserve a sweet respite in the park! Love the bird music too. Very pretty.

  6. heylookawriterfellow says:

    Dang! You’ve been busy! Congrats on…well, all of it!

    But let me get this straight. You’re meeting fellow bloggers, but you made no effort to meet me? I am deeply wounded.

    I mean, so what if I’m 3,000 miles away. That’s not an excuse at all!

  7. Sheila says:

    Great news all around! I loved your travel ban article and can’t wait to hear about Mexico City and Cuba now. When I first saw that picture of you on the bench, I thought you were floating there. I’m glad you were able to take a breath and listen to the birds.

  8. Oliver says:

    “Somebody’s got the right idea.” indeed! 🙂 Not only in terms of “floating in that particular moment listening to the songs of nature”, but also with “Superneat Marketing”. I’m certainly among the “crack a smile fraction” and really like your website. Well done! Britt, best of luck, plenty of energy and enthusiasm for that step and lots of unfussy clients!! There’s has been and surely still is lots going on in your life at the moment, changes in all sorts of dimensions. May there always be enough “slow moments” helping you to keep pace with life…

  9. joey says:

    The Mister and I once moved about six buildings away in the same complex, and I must agree, it’s still a move.
    Frida and Gellhorn will be honored to have you grace the halls of their homes in memory. Enjoy for me!
    I stare at trees all the time. It’s meditation of sorts.
    Congratulations on your Superneat enterprise! 😀

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      A move is a move, doll! No doubt about that. Just the sight of boxes is making me cringe right now.

      Here’s to staring at trees more often! And thanks for the congrats! Xo

  10. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Dahlink! You’ve been crazed! I’m so glad you stopped and unplugged yourself. So much of the real world to let in when we’re out and about in nature. Good luck on this new venture! It sounds superneat-o!

  11. diannegray says:

    I love Superneat for a the name of your business, Britt. It’s great that you’re writing in a lot of different forms and that you and hubby can work together (I know I couldn’t work with my hubby – he’d drive me crazy!) 😀

  12. Dannie C Hill says:

    You are a busy lady! But you take time to enjoy what’s around you. I often do the ‘be still and listen’ thing while out on the ocean. Only a few birds, but the sea has it’s own voice. Best of luck and great success in all your new endeavors

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Too busy of a lady, I know! I do my best, Dannie, but I can be better about taking it all in. The sea calms me like nothing else. I’ll be on the beach next weekend, and it will be the perfect reset.

      Hope you’re doing awesome!

  13. Clanmother says:

    I loved this post: full of joyful enthusiasm and an unquestionable spirit of adventure. Embracing all that life offers, you are living the best story possible moment by moment! You reminded me of my quote that I took with me when I graduated from high school many many years ago – I keep it ever with me to remind me to live big:
    “Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
    Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
    Forever and forever when I move.
    How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
    To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
    As though to breathe were life!”
    Alfred Tennyson

  14. Andrea Stephenson says:

    Wow, congratulations Britt, you’ve certainly been busy – and doing such exciting things! I envy you Frida’s house, I’m sure those visits will bring lots of inspiration. But still, I’m glad you found some time to chill – you’ll need it to find joy among all the busyness 🙂

  15. bexshapiro says:

    Oh Britt, you’re such a star (and talented writer)! So glad I met you through VIVA, very appreciative of your intros, and hope to meet at some point in the future! x

  16. Browsing the Atlas says:

    Excellent news about all your writing! Sounds like you’re stretching new muscles. I’ve always found it hard to confine myself to one genre/topic. All that ever really matters is that we’re writing. 🙂

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