Every year on my birthday I commit myself to a self analysis.  I’m a harsh critic, the feedback is brutal.  I crawl away wounded and dying from a bleed out.  Last August/September, I was in Iceland.  I was fully connected to my friends and family and social media the whole time, save for one spot.  It was off some F-road, I drove as far as I felt comfortable taking the rental, and I was 100% disconnected from it all.  I sat for hours and enjoyed the silence and promised I would cut myself a break.

It’s still happening – “getting there”.  I don’t know where ‘there’ is, no one ever does.  It’s not linear or circular, it’s a knotted up ball of yarn weaved together with emotion, dead-ends, and by-the-skin-of-your-teeth victories.  But, what’s so important, is I’m no longer sitting in the middle of nowhere Iceland.  I’m sitting on a cliff in Yosemite National Park, enjoying the breeze and grateful for a newfound strength.

I’m not as thin as I was this time last year, I don’t fit into a lot of my clothes, but my hiking boots are hella comfortable.  I’m happy and have gained so much self-respect and self-worth, the added weight is worth carrying.

There is always a camera by my side, adventure in my heart, and a story on my mind.  My socks never match, and I can no longer tell if I’m more tan or just constantly dirty from hiking.

I catch myself thinking about how I like the way my hips curve, but I should really invest into more cardio for healthful reasons instead of the superficial.  I am addicted to soda, and should drink more water because the color of my pee says so.  As a diagnosed asthmatic for 17+ years, I forget my inhaler constantly, but I will always remember that one super embarrassing moment that happened when I was thirteen that no one else ever will.

I’m no longer a predator hunting for survival, but I’m a woman happily thriving on whatever mess I can get my hands on.  I recently started wearing tight leggings, and I don’t care what I or anyone else thinks about how I look in them – they’re comfortable and reduce the hell out of chub-rub.  I still don’t regret any of my tattoos, and don’t shave as often as I used to.

I’m proud of how far I’m come with my photography skills, and have a tendency to forget to charge the camera batteries.  I can’t help but pronounce aperture as “aperature” and try desperately to fix that.

I have a terrible fear of bridges – I’m not afraid of heights – but I will cry my eyes out and still cross the fucking thing.  Taking off in a plane makes me want to vomit, but once we’re at cruising altitude, I could stay there for days.

I’m extroverted, but nervous when it’s my turn to talk to people, and still hope I don’t sound too stupid.

I’m terrible at actually eating my leftovers and hold onto them in the fridge longer than I should purely out of guilt for wasting.  I can’t stand taking cold showers, and I forget to reapply sunscreen after I’ve sweated it off.  I’ve never been an expert at talking about my feelings, I’m more likely to swallow a cup full of nails than express them aloud.

I still dream of being featured in NatGeo, and I will visit all of the places.  I’m trying to learn more languages and expand my understanding of global struggles, yet I will forever cling to the naive notion of “why can’t we all just get along?”

This is me at twenty-nine.  And I am fucking gorgeous.