“Time is of the essence.”

I don’t understand many idioms but with this one, I had to look up the definition to fully understand the meaning. What I found was this:

“Timing and meeting all deadlines are essential and required. (Often seen in contractual agreements.)”

Every year since my 25th birthday I’ve made it a point to travel out of town away from the usual coercion from friends to venture out into Seattle’s nightlife: going to clubs with the longest lines and most ridiculous cover charges; bullshit with fellow bar-goers over the hardest of drinks made by the most generous of bartenders, with a wink “here’s a drink on the house for the pretty birthday girl;” or dance the night away with random strangers who at the last song of the night secretly just want to take you home but strategically finding your exit halfway through the song to ensure you’re getting home safe and alone. And not to mention the pressure from friends who want to celebrate your year of birth by pushing shot after shot in front of your already plastered face until you’re barely coherent and puking on the side of the road while your girlfriends hold your hair back as a sign of “trust” and “endearment”..


That’s not what I’m looking for anymore.

I am looking for meaning and substance and perpetual growth. I am looking for boundless views that you could only imagine in your most alluring of dreams. I am looking for mountains so big that you could see a 360 view of this beautiful world in all its magnificence and vast and expansive glory—views only Gods could witness from their heavenly kingdom. In the last few trips alone, these ventures have taught me volumes about the world, and most fascinatingly, it’s equally taught me volumes about myself.


Year #25: Albuquerque, New Mexico

This was the last year I spent with my gorgeously beautiful, smart and immensely talented sisters to celebrate my oldest sister’s marriage in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What I loved the most about Albuquerque was how much it contrasted from the dreary, rainy Seattle. When you’ve lived in Seattle for as long as I have, you grow so accustomed to the daily downpour and grey skies that your idea of beauty is intensified in the presence of the color-filled and sunshiny New Mexico. Even the canyons and desert scenes seem to have screamed out the reminiscence of a Fauvist painting come to life. The three days I spent in New Mexico I got to experience the polarity similar to the mornings of sunshine we experience in Seattle and by mid-day to evening time, the drizzle of rain that follows. The morning of my sister’s wedding, I took a jog and the mix of the heat and high altitude was much different than my usual runs in Seattle (much harder to breathe!). I reached a clearing where I couldn’t help but stop and admire the views I had come across. That was the first time I realized that it was possible to feel “like you’re home” in a place you’ve never been, and in deeper realization that home has never actually been about your place of residence, but about realizing that home is everywhere you are and the way your heart connects to the people and environment around you in those moments.


Year #26: Ruby Beach, Olympic National Forest, Washington

This was the year my best friend took me to Ruby Beach, Olympic National Forest, right in our own neighborhood 2 hours away. This was the first time I realized that Washington actually has gorgeous beaches and not just.. rocks.

[Side story] I moved to Washington when I was 5 from Santa Rita, Guam and the first time my friends told me they were taking me to the beach, I was so excited, thinking the beaches were going to be like Guam’s white sandy beaches and clear, turquoise waters, but only coming to find that the beaches here in Washington were made of rocks and muddy water.

The most charming part about this trip was the fact that the mini beaches we found on our trip were almost completely secluded, like our very own private oasis of mirrored glass you could easily cross and feel the sand squishing between your toes as the water splashes every which way you walk. This trip taught me that the agenda wasn’t as important as was the journey it was to get there. We watched the stars that night unpolluted by the city life and it’s endless lights that never seem to turn off and I remember feeling the freedom of not following a schedule or abiding by an appointment. Experiences like this can’t be forced to follow a manmade concept of “time.” At any moment, a lesson could present itself unannounced and the only way we can learn and understand the lesson presented is by being open and ready to take it all in as it comes, just like the rolling waves that reached our toes on the sands on unknown territory. With no reception in the area, coming home to Seattle that night to dozens of messages and voicemails wishing me happy birthday made me realize how connected we are to all the wrong things and if we reconnected back to our source—back to nature—we would find a more meaningful connections than the ones that technology poses to present.


Year #27: en route to Palouse Falls, LaCrosse, Washington

My boyfriend and I made a last minute decision hours before the midnight of my birthday to travel across the state to the beautiful Palouse Falls. The only way I was able to make this trip was if we were to wake up and be on the road by 5am so that we could be back in time for the dinner that my parents planned for me—they being the ones who instilled the importance of celebrating birthdays above all else. This trip went against all I’ve ever believed about time and it being “of the essence,” and achieving specific events within certain deadlines. I learned that sometimes, you have to learn what you can out of the time you are given because just like in life, we never know when we’ll have another chance or another day. The most memorable moment of this trip was waking up in the passenger seat and bearing witness to a glowing candy sky of blues and golden oranges and yellows that made me so thankful for a God that allowed us an opportunity to experience his life work in creating such a masterpiece. How many days of my life have I spent passing up chances to experience moments like this?? With that being the most important moment of the trip, reaffirmed my belief that the lessons are truly in the journey traveled, not necessarily in the destination or end game.


Year #28: secluded beach somewhere on the coast of Forks, Washington

This year was the first year I spent away from family. I had been dreading planning my year 28 trip and wondering to myself what a trip alone would feel like. Would I be able to manage this trip alone with just as much confidence and certainty as I conduct myself in my working life? It wasn’t until I met someone who showed up at exactly the right time and place in my life to instill yet another important lesson in the concept of trust that I thought I had long given up on. Even in my survival-driven mindset, I should have been on every waking guard to stay away from this person, but maneuvering my life from that jaded and insecure context is what brought me the unique life-lesson in trust and faith that humanity always seems to reinstill in me in every person and situation I seem come across at the right moment. I’ve seen pain and heart ache in every form and felt the ugly kind of pain that could send even the strongest of people to break at the knees and crawl back into the darkest places of their heart and hide away from the rest of the world. Our first night traveling to Olympic National Park, with Salt Creek in mind, we ended up camping out our first night in my car, just an hour away of missing the sign-in cut off time. But even with that “missed opportunity” alone, was perfectly and divinely conducted because despite the nights I’ve spent in the past sleeping in my car, the sound of the rain pouring on the roof of my GMC Terrain in the Olympic National Forest somehow had a different sound that was oddly soothing and comforting, especially in the company of someone who was becoming so special and dear to me. Nothing about this trip went to “plan” and that was the most beautiful part about it. That we were both learning lessons specific to us in tandem. By the end of the trip, we somehow landed in Ocean Shores, Washington and I learned how to shoot a bow & arrow, discovering that I’m a natural at it. Even shooting my first bullseye at the target—once I got the hang of not snapping myself with welts from the string! The few days we spent aimlessly exploring our evergreen backyard, I found beauty in the darkest of souls I have ever met and finally accepted my own darkness as well. I finally understood that every bit of my darkness reinforces what makes me the good person that I am, that I still encompass a free and giving heart, and it is the proof I remind myself of that I am not only worth forgiving myself of my many shortcomings, but I am also so deserving of every good thing that happens to me and every ounce of love I receive from others, including myself.


Year 28: Lake Crescent, Port Angeles, Washington


Year 28: Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Throughout each and every year I’ve celebrated traveling away from home, what it comes down to is this: every year is a new lesson in learning to love myself fully and completely. It is a constant process and I still have yet to say that I don’t have moments of unworthiness and not feeling “good enough,” and having complete and unconditional love for myself. But, like I said before, it is a continual process and my experiences have taught me to always come back to my center. I am frequently giving to others, whether I mean to or not, but I must spend an equal amount of time giving back to myself the gift of learning and exploring this wide world full of wonders that I still haven’t even begun to fully comprehend. It becomes another opportunity for me to be a source of light to the lives around me who are unable to have the experiences that I’ve had. I become the possibility of inspiration to another person’s life just by my presence alone. My birthdays have not just become a day for me to be thankful and give gratitude to be brought into this beautiful world, but a day to commemorate the quality of life I’m building for myself and the people I love and choose to spend my valuable time with. Time may not be “of the essence” in my eyes, but the quality of time spent is what makes our time here so special and worthwhile.

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