Waiau Pass anxiety

I’m so anxious about this walk. The last 2 days have been super easy. Tomorrow is supposed to be just as easy. And then super hard up over the pass. For some reason I was dreading this whole section as though the whole thing would be as hard as the pass. But really it’s just distance. The pass itself is tough. There’s another tough section just before blue lake hut. But the rest is straightforward.

I have been anticipating this for so long and it’s nearly here. I even remember thinking to myself it was crazy that I needed 8 days worth of food for this section! And now I’m carrying all this food and it’s not even a big deal. The next section, 10 days of food. Nervous about that. But even then that’s probably not going to be that bad. The next section is definitely harder. Way harder. But I feel less anxiety about that than I do about this pass.

I think some of the emotions I’m feeling right now are a not wanting this to end. That after it is over I’ll think back about all of the things I regret about how I did, or worrying that I went too fast and didn’t take it in enough. I’m really glad I have this blog to look back at, despite the posts getting a bit more boring lately. Honestly this last week or so I’ve been kinda on autopilot. I’m a bit discouraged about the skipping bits thing, despite it being the right thing to do, I feel like I missed some things or wasn’t complete enough. My inner purist is coming out, methinks.

The lost art of sending postcards

You’ve seen them everywhere. Every convenience store. Every museum gift shop. Every little cafe on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. But how often have you actually sent or gotten one?

Of course I’m talking about postcards. In this modern era of literally being able to make a video call to a friend who is on a train under the San Francisco Bay while standing next to the tracks of a bullet train in Japan so they can see the train whoosh by at full speed along with you, one might ask what is even the point of a postcard?

A couple of years ago my friend Bronwen was laid up at home for a while after breaking her leg. Another friend Megan was working on a postcard project and was over at Bron’s filling them out. She put out a call on Twitter for people who wanted a postcard to send her their address so I did. A few days later I got a postcard from the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver (sorry, no pic, it’s 8000 miles away in a box), BC and a handwritten note even mentioning something about the photographer and just other fun stuff. It was fun. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed sending postcards. I don’t do it very consistently, but I generally at least pick some up from a shop with the intent of filling them out and mailing them, even if I never do! Maybe some day I’ll have a postcard frenzy like Megan’s!

Why do I like sending postcards though? I think it’s because I like receiving them! Even in this modern day of ultra connectivity and social media and such, maybe even especially in this modern day, stopping to write a postcard, figure out how much the postage is, find somewhere to buy stamps, realize you don’t have the recipient’s address so you have to text them to get it, is such a hugely intentional act that when I receive one it’s like getting a big hug from an old friend. Especially since, despite the ultra connectivity, I really don’t keep as good of contact with my friends as I’d like to. There’s that cliche “wish you were here” that I so often want to write and usually resist, but despite the cliche, honestly, I usually do wish whoever it is I’m sending the postcard to was here. I travel alone, not as an intentional thing, just because I haven’t yet found a travel buddy, so sending a postcard to a friend is kind of a way to deal with homesickness, something I definitely get. For instance, I’ve been in New Zealand now for 5 days and I miss my cats a whole lot. But on the train here yesterday I wrote up some postcards and that helped a lot!

Receiving postcards is fun because it’s cool to see what friends have to say about whatever is on the card. I tend to try to only get postcards if I’ve been to the thing on the card, and share an experience I had, especially if that experience reminded me of them! So receiving one is like getting to live vicariously through someone else’s experiences, and due to the time investment in sending the card, it’s an intensely personal and intimate connection. At least for me.

I also send postcards to myself while I’m traveling. I can’t tell you how fun it is to come home to a stack of postcards of all of the places I went on your travels, along with notes I wrote to myself. It’s like reliving the memories all over again! Even better when you make it home before the postcards do and they start showing up in the mail!

Sure, I can quickly snap my own photo and text it to a friend and they’ll have it seconds later. Or post it on $social_media for everyone to share with. And I do those things. I really did video call with a friend while next to a bullet train in Japan. I post pictures on social media. I’m working on blogging and journaling more about my travels to try to capture more than simple snippets at a time about my experiences. Those things are all valuable! But there’s just something special about a postcard that those other things don’t replicate.

Kickoff Entries

A thing I’ve been doing in my journal is what I call a “kickoff entry”. If I take on a new thing, or add something to my routine, I’ll write a little blurb about what, why, goals, and some thoughts about what conditions I may decide to end the experiment.

These really help to solidify the intent around the action, and help me be realistic about what I want to get out of it. Also, as someone who frequently jumps from one new thing to the next, it helps me pace myself a bit. If I sit down and write an entry, I get an opportunity to ask “do I really want this?” And “what am I sacrificing to make this happen.

I have a tendency to be very “oh this is going to be awesome!” And 3 weeks later have totally forgotten about things. This has been helping with that, some. It’s definitely fun, at the very least!


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Each blue square is a day I made at least one entry.
For the past several months I’ve been making a concerted effort to write in my journal every single day. I’d heard lots of great things about it in the past, but never really got into it. One of the big road blocks I ran into in the past was thinking that every journal entry had to be some insightful, well-written, moving piece of prose. This is actually one of the reasons I have never really had a blog take off and be something I do, too.

I’ve been slowly working my way through Search Inside Yourself (SIY) for almost a year at this point, and one of the mindfulness techniques it mentions is journaling. SIY is very much in the camp of “write for the sake of writing.” It even goes as far as to say that even if all you end up writing is “I have no real idea what to write about but this thing says I need to keep writing for 3 minutes regardless of what’s actually coming out”, then it was a valuable exercise. I’d like to add my support for that statement as well. Usually after about 2 sentences of nonsense, something comes to my mind and I end up writing for way longer than the prescribed 3 minutes.

Combined with an app I’ll discuss in another post that aims to aid in habit formation, I now not only write in my journal nearly every day, but it often ends up being my default location for brainstorming or thinking about things, and there are many days where I will write multiple entries. One of the wonderful things about writing every day is discovering what sorts of broader themes crop up in my journal.

One of the most valuable things I’ve gotten out of my journal is seeing the progress I’ve been making in my life. I’ve really been making significant improvements in my life in the past several years, and journaling gives me a way to look back in time at what things used to be like and see the progress I’ve made. I honestly can’t wait for 5 years from now when I look back at entries I’m writing today.

I have lots more I can say on this topic, and will say on this topic in the future. For now, I invite you to join me on this journey, and if you’ve been journaling yourself, I would love to hear the techniques you use and the value you’ve gotten from your own exercises.