POSTED BY: ERIKA
It is a beautiful summer evening here in Portland. I just can’t say it enough…I LOVE summer time! Sunshine, farmer’s market, eating meals outside, can’t get much better then that!
Yesterday I had the chance to spend time with one of my closest friends from college. She and I met about 2 years ago on the U of O crew team. It was a a cold, dark morning, 5:15 a.m. at the bus stop where the team caught a bus that took us out to the lake for practice. Someone on the team, who knew that both Leah and I had gluten and dairy allergies, told us we had to meet. So we ended up sitting next to each other and for the 40 minute ride we talked all about our food “issues.” We’ve had a bond ever since that day…the saying, “food brings people together” couldn’t be more fitting for us! So I am happy to be featuring her this week for my Wild Wednesday guest!
1) Can you tell me a little about your hometown and what made you venture out here to Oregon? And tell me what you love so much about Oregon!
I grew up 15 minutes from downtown Philadelphia (on the playground is where I spent most of my days…) in a pretty affluent suburb. I didn’t travel out to the west coast until high school when I went on two month-long backpacking adventures with my best friend. I immediately fell in love with how beautiful everything looked and how nice everyone was. I knew I wanted to go to school out west but I honestly only applied to the UO because my brother got accepted but refused to go even though he really wanted to. I think the distance freaked him out… So I did it as an obnoxious little sister move, but once I got accepted and came out to visit, I knew I couldn’t resist (Sorry Aaron). Oregon is excellent because it is incredibly dynamic—every single season there are always various things going on like outdoor adventures or music festivals, etc. Also, REALLY GOOD FOOD everywhere. And, of course, awesome awesome people. I’ve never felt so at home being so far away from my real home.
On top of the world!
2) You are one of my few friends who I think actually enjoys their major. Tell me why you choose religious studies and what it means to you?
Religion to me has always been fascinating because it is arguably the oldest man made construction in existence. If you think about it, the first thing that the human race created was the concept of a ‘god’. And, in its application to the ‘survival of the fittest’ concept, its also fascinating that religion still exists today in a whole variety of shapes and sizes. I like studying religion because it opens up a doorway into the depths of other cultures’ consciousness and understandings of existence. It gives me the opportunity to understand people I will never actually meet while simultaneously allowing for my own personal reflections and my relationship with the rest of the universe. It’s a pretty ‘far out’ major—I love it because its always interesting and always keeps me questioning.
3) As I mentioned before, the root of our bond originates in our passion of overall health and wellness. So I’ll ask you this, what does health mean to you?
I came across some research recently that supports the very serious claim that endocrine/hormonal imbalances are responsible for the obesity epidemic in America. The various chemicals, hormones, and GMOs infesting the American diet have caused actual long-term, genetic, hormonal shifts that prevent humans from properly processing and utilizing energy from the food we eat. There are very grave consequences for putting unnatural things in our very natural bodies and this research should hopefully be alarming enough for real change to occur. I can’t really define specifically what ‘health’ means to me but… if you started watering your plants with Diet Coke, they would be brown and shriveled in a week. Humans are creatures built from the earth, meant to live for and with the earth. Instead, we have moved so far outside of our natural environment that most of the ‘food’ found in the typical grocery store cannot seriously be considered real food at all. I suppose health to me is respecting our origin, our earth, and living sustainably within nature, and for it.
Leah working in the garden!
4) Favorite part of cooking? Favorite meal to make?
I like the sounds and faces that people make after they eat something delicious that I made for them. There is nothing more pleasing than that. And, can’t commit to a favorite meal… but recently, pancakes have been on the menu, filled with lots of different seeds and spices. And on the top, organic jam and either peanut butter or almond butter made by you!
5) We both love summatime! With this in mind, what is making you the most happy right now?
What we discussed earlier today: the ultimate liberation of leaving the house in shorts and a t-shirt and not being weighed down by 5 or more jackets (like in the dreaded winter). The sun is my fuel! Also, having 15+ hours of sunshine during the day is such a gift. Summatime summatime!
6) Are you learning any new skills during your summer vacation?!
I just started getting into the guitar again (cliché, I know). My main instrument is the piano but I don’t have one here in Oregon so the guitar is the second best choice. Also, I’ve been slowly working on my fear of singing when people can hear me. I can now sit on my porch and play the guitar/sing and not panic when someone walks by… but it’s a work on process. I also started belly dance class a bit ago and took a break over the summer. I’m excited to continue with it next year so I can pursue my future career in ‘gypsy’.
7) What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is creating positive energy and removing negative energy. It shouldn’t be this big estranged mystery everyone thinks it to be. Happiness really isn’t hard to achieve and it should never be neglected.
Leah and her lovely mom!
8) You are about to embark on an incredible journey to Nepal! What are you most looking forward to and what are you most worried about?
I desire and fear the same thing: a huge epic internal transformation that will in some way change my relationships with my friends, family members, and society at large. I don’t know what to expect but I’m open to what all of Nepal has to teach me. I’ve never lived outside of the United States and certainly have never been anywhere with such a different guiding mentality.
9) The first day I told you about Wild Squirrel was in math class. I remember after class you looked at me and said, “you should drop out of school and actually DO this!” I thought you were crazy….now look where I am! So why did you tell me that? And how did you know we would be successful?
I didn’t know you would be successful! But the combination of you and Keeley’s shared intelligence, charisma, and compassion combined with your creativity in the kitchen gave me the confidence to push you to at least try… and I’m glad I did. I understand the significance of school but our society trains us to believe that we need higher education to be ‘successful’. I’ve seen so many people abandon their talents because they don’t apply to ‘esteemed’ careers earned with a fancy degree. I’m so happy that you decided to risk the traditional path for something a bit more true to yourself— I hope your story will inspire others to do the same! And, I guess I’m quite happy you are successful because I would feel pretty guilty otherwise…
Leah and I!
Good friends supporting Keeley and I at a street fair! Leah far right!
Thanks for being my Wild Wednesday feature! I am so lucky to have you as a friend and I am so excited for you to have an amazing adventure in Nepal!
Until next time,