An Observation

From here I see my campus from an aerial view. If I turn around, I see the backs of the display books in the library. I feel as if I am spying on my own classes, looking through the glass as if admiring a fish tank. The empty space is filled with reflections of light as the mountains project onto the classroom air. The ceiling is as busy as the ground, as the light blends the air the way water blends light.

The soft, patchy hills feel uninviting up close as the pine needles keep me seated delicately. The towering trees are no mightier than grass in the valley, as the vertical space of campus is dominated by mountains, surrounded by empty air.

The birds aren’t tied to the ground. The space is theirs, and they are free to exist on a higher plane. They have their own conversations up here. They chatter amongst each other as I do with my friends in the confines of the trees. 

For this moment, I am with them. I exist on the higher plane, resisting the hour where I will return to my path on the game board of campus. The ground is vast, and I never considered my ability to break my trails. I’ve existed on this campus for years, and I’ve traced the same route each day, etching my footprints into the ground. I’ve left spaces abandoned and ignored. There are pockets in the trees where I’ve never set foot. The heart of campus is in the green leaves, though I experience life on the white concrete, referencing the trees as accessories.

From afar, these trees are the campus. Each little patch on the mountain is a three dimensional plant that stands alone. The buildings are silent amongst the loud winds that rush through the branches, and are invisible behind the deep, warm tones of nature. Before returning to my concrete trail, I will keep in mind where the life of campus resides. My existence circles the trees, and my classroom is not as tall as I once believed.

Image Credit: Home Stratosphere

Fully Vaxxed (well sorta)

I have both shots as of yesterday, and all I can say is wahoo!

I mean the first shot made me really tired and my arm sore, but nothing really bad. And the second shot caused me to get chills, massive headaches, and pass out. But all I can say is hallelujah… I am vaccinated and can finally start getting back to normal.

I still have to wait a couple weeks until I can leave my house without mask, according to the CDC guidelines, but it is one step closer to normalcy. I still plan on wearing a mask for many reasons- to protect myself, to protect those who haven’t gotten a vaccine, and to make it known that I am not an anti- masker or a republican.

photo credit: international disability alliance

Speaking of normalcy, what is it? It is not like I will be going to massive parties or hanging in large groups, I did not even do that before the pandemic. I think normalcy is going outside without a mask, making plans- such as brunch with friends or shopping at the mall- and seeing family members I haven’t been able to see since the start of COVID.

Being vaccinated will allow me to do “normal” everyday things and activities without the fear of catching a deadly virus.

Vaccine

Today I got the vaccine, and boy can’t I be more relieved. I feel safer knowing that I am almost fully vaccinated.

I got the first dose today and in a couple of weeks, I am going to get the second dose. I encourage anyone who can to get the shot- it is painless and will protect you from COVID. I know there were lots of disputes around these vaccines- Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson- but whichever one you get will help you tremendously.

I am not one to be afraid of needles and this shot felt like nothing, I didn’t even flinch.

Photo credit: CDC

If you can please get one, it is the most relieving feeling ever. The wave of joy is really hard to explain, you want to jump for joy. Soon enough life can go back to normal and we can hang out with large groups of people. Unfortunately even if you are vaccinated hanging out in large groups can’t happen yet. This due to the fact that not everyone is vaccinated yet.

Slowly but surely everything with be back to normal.

self-destruct

Why is it so hard to let myself fully fall into a relationship.

I may be passionate about the person and they hold a deep place of significance in my heart, yet I still struggle to let them in and take the walls surrounding my heart down.

I remain guarded, in order to protect the innocence and intensity of love from reaching me. Is it that I am not capable of feeling and accepting it? Or is it I’d rather stay safe and remain living a simple life of independence.

There are many times of questioned that. Where I think, could he be the one I decide to try and dive into love once again with?

But instead, I sabotage it, I turn the passionate feelings off, I shut down…

So why is it that my mind must do this to my heart which longs so deeply for human connection?

Why must there be something that reminds me of the joy I feel when I am a free spirit?

Maybe it is simply that I have not met the person that can match my sense of adventure and unwavering free spirit that can be overwhelming to some.

The problem is, I hurt people with this self destructive behavior of mine even though that is far from my goal.

photo credit: https://unsplash.com/

One month in Africa

In October I will be going on a one-two month-long safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I have visited Africa several times now for my photography expedition, but they usually only lasted between 1-2 weeks. Now I am ready for something bigger. I am incredibly excited, but part of me is also very nervous. One month of getting up at 4.30 am every morning, being on safari for about 11-12 hours a day can be very tiring and intimidating. But it is what I love, and I am more than excited about this adventure. Every day being out with these amazing animals, taking pictures, and sharing them with the world, what an absolute dream!

I have met so many amazing people through my photography: guides, other photographers, and even scientists. We all have the same passion; protecting these beautiful animals and sharing their beauty with the world to conserve them for many more generations to see.

I believe animals can teach us so much and they can help people. For me, I am just happy when I am among wildlife, all my stress is gone and I just feel relaxed. Doing my photography has helped me a lot through hard times, and it never fails to make me happy. Getting feedback from people who admire your work is so motivating and it makes you proud to have come where you are now.

picture by author

Pushing through

About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.

During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.

I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back. 

The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.

picture by author

Things that make no sense

Stocks make no sense to me, and I do not want them explained to me. I just know they control the economy around the world and are used as a pastime for rich people and teenage boys.

Bats. They make no sense to me, like I know they are animals, but they confuse me. Just the thought of bats sleeping upside down is a no-no for me.

Photo credit: U.S department of the interior

Homophobia, how can one hate someone for loving someone. Love is Love, do not hate on someone for being themselves and loving someone.

Racism, why the heck does racism exist? Like seriously is it so hard to be a decent person to someone no matter their race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and religion?

Dress codes, they are stupid and only invented for girls. Girls get dress coded because their skirts are too short or their stomach is showing. Guys don’t get dress coded because dress codes were created to sexualize girls.

Ending a chapter

Five more weeks. Only five more weeks and one of the biggest chapters of my life will come to an end. I came to America 3 years ago, planning on only staying for half a year. And now here I am, three years later. These have been the best three years of my life. I will miss this place more than I can explain. All the memories and people. It is hard leaving it behind. But I know that I will always be connected to this place and to the people. I know I will return, and I have made friendships for life here. 

Even though I am very sad to leave, I am also excited to see what the future will hold. I have so many plans and trips coming up that I can hardly wait for. I am taking a gap year in which I will be in a different country every month doing my wildlife photography. I am going on a 1-month backpacking trip in Montana and I have so many more plans, and then college. I couldn’t be happier with my college decision. I will be attending Montana State University. The location is absolutely beautiful, they have amazing programs, and their outdoor program is everything I was looking for in a college. The Yellowstone ecosystem is just 30 minutes away from campus and there are awesome ski resorts nearby.

I am incredibly sad to leave Highschool but I will never forget the people and memories I have made here. Thank you for the best three years of my life.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montana_State_University

Limited Time

Now that spring has begun and the air is faintly smelling of orange blossom filling the valley air in the brisk mornings, I can tell my time here is coming to an end. The morning and afternoons driving up and down the weaving road into the campus atop the hill. There are so many fond memories that will last more than a life time.

But now I am counting the weeks left in this beautiful place that I have spent the last four years of my life. In one way, this place is kind of all I have ever known, but it has made me want to branch out and go explore. I have learned so much academically, but also as a person.

I’ve learned what to expect from people and how to protect myself and control emotions, I’ve learned how to make true life long connections with people but most importantly I began to learn who I am.

All of these small simple lessons have been learned simply from waking up and going to school every morning and giving it all I could every day.

So now I have realized I have limited time left, and that is in fact scary, but it is leading me to a new adventure.

Photo credit : Ojai Valley School

Who I am

Do you know this feeling, when your heart drops and it feels like someone just dug a knife through it. That feeling that shivers down your spine and makes the hair on your arms crawl up. You’re pumped with adrenaline. Your heart is beating out your chest. And then, just silence. You don’t know what you feel anymore, it’s too much. Tears start rolling down your face. Your breath gets faster and faster.

Thinking about it, emotions are a fascinating and scary thing. One moment they make you feel like you are on top of the world, the next they crush you down to the floor. But I am not saying that that’s a bad thing. They help us learn, they help us communicate with other people without using words. People can connect, solely through their emotions. It helps us understand each other more. 

For the longest time, I tried to suppress my emotions. I feel weak showing my flaws and I don’t want people to see me cry. It is still something I am struggling with to this day. But I have found ways to deal with it by myself. Running, singing, playing tennis, are all things that help me burn off stress. But camping is probably the thing that has helped me most throughout my life. 

When I am outside camping with friends, I just forget all my worries for a while. Everything is ok and I just feel free and relaxed. Its like I’m in a completely different state of mind, like bad things can’t even get close to me. And at night when I look up at the stars, I just feel thankful for the life I have. How lucky I am to have such great friends and memories of traveling around the planet. How supportive my family is, and how excited I am for my future. 

Feelings are a important part of who we are as a person. They define us. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. even though I still struggle, I know there are people out there who care for me and who support me in anything I do. 

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