Mary Bryant 

Wahclella Falls Hike-It-Out 8/25/14

September 6, 2014 | Nature Photos and Stories | Permalink

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Tanner Creek

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Munra Falls

The hike into Wahclella Falls is one of the most interesting trails in the Gorge-ous. It starts out really flat along Tanner Creek and winds it’s way up and into your heart as you enter the canyon where the falls are.

There is also a small waterfall called Munra Falls that streams against a rock wall as you enter the canyon. Water levels were super low in the summer, but it was absolutely beautiful. I definitely want to return in the spring

The trail forks about halfway in and you can take either the high route or the lower route. We took the high road and I was singing that little tune from my childhood all the way.

I didn’t have my walking sticks since it was such a short hike, but it was so steep in places that I would definitely recommend them. I ended up walking in “Sasquatch mode” (wider stance with my arms hanging out wider for balance) which definitely made the descent less harrowing.

When I rounded the corner and saw the end of the canyon with the stunningly high, mossy, rock walls, huge old trees, rocks and falls all I could do was gasp and say, “This looks exactly like a Maxfield Parrish painting.” It is incredibly breathtaking and the scale of everything is unlike any other falls in the Columbia Gorge.  I can’t wait to return in the spring for a longer visit!

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First sight of Wahclella Falls–so Maxfield Parrish!

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Looking down the canyon at Tanner Creek from the falls…

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Looking back at Wahclella from the bridge on the lower route. Spectacular spectacular!

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Maxfield Parrish, “The Waterfall”, 1930

Cocteau Twins Story on 4AD’s Sleevenotes

August 29, 2014 | Interesting Links | Permalink

Cool story on COCTEAU TWINS and the founding of the label from the 4AD site. Will definitely check back to see more of their sleeve notes as they are published.

It’s interesting to read about the evolution of the band from Treasure to Victorialand and on to the poppier Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas. Their compositions and Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals certainly changed over time, but it’s interesting to know what influenced some of those changes.

Man, oh man, oh man… I had loved them for years when I saw them live in 1990, which was of my favorite shows ever. Wish I could see them again, but happy to have had the opportunity back then. Don’t know if they ever made it to the West Coast (or even North America?) again.

Here are a few of my favorite songs by Cocteau Twins and iterations thereof:

From Garlands…

I love how tiny they are in this live version… aww.

From Treasure…

From Pink Opaque…

From The Moon and the Melodies with Harold Budd… this is my favorite collaboration they ever did.

From Victorialand

From Heaven or Las Vegas

Elizabeth with This Mortal Coil… hello pretty pretty…

Elizabeth with Massive Attack…

First morning blog post and doodle experiment 8/27/14

August 27, 2014 | Daily Blog | Permalink

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Welp, I submitted my travel grant application to the committee at PSU last night.  The funding will help offset the costs of going to the Peerpocalypse conference and the Mad In America International Film Festival in October. The primary investigator of the project I work on wrote an amazing letter of support that I hope will win the hearts of the grant committee. Should hear back in a week or so… fingers crossed!

My team at work is having our final big group meeting of the summer this afternoon. Summer interns are going to give poster presentations and I’m going to teach folks my simple crochet technique and give a short talk on some research I’m doing on it. I’m working on a paper called “This Is Your Brain on Crochet: Repetitive Motion, Flow and the Secret to Self-Efficacy in Protracted Withdrawal” for the Peerpocalypse conference in October and was considering working extra hard this morning to finish the draft I’ve been working on for the meeting today. However, I’m pretty whupped and decided against it. I have a full day of work today and tomorrow, so taking it down a notch makes sense. I can always send my paper to folks when I finish it. Plus, focusing on teaching the technique and talking about it while crafting a bit sounds like plenty of work and a lot of fun. I’m going to miss the young interns when they leave soon and look forward to their presentations and having lunch with them today.

I’ve been doodling before bed some nights and when I have a spare moment during the day with art supplies close by. I did these when Kiri and I went to Washington Park to hang out and do art a couple of weekends ago.

The one on the left represents the static-y feeling I get in my brain, and the one on the right represents how my mind feels when I am relaxed. I was feeling the static as I drew the one on the left just after arriving at the park. Then, I did some breathing exercises and stretches and drew the one on the right. Pretty interesting to see the results in visual representation…

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Taking it down a notch… or five…

August 25, 2014 | Daily Blog | Permalink

This summer, I’m trying to take it down a notch to reduce my stress and anxiety levels in concrete ways that I can sustain in every aspect of my life. This seems like the next logical step in my recovery process, but I’m also listening to my body. I have so many good things happening in my life that I want and need to attend to, and when my body’s stress response is always activated, a lot of my mental and physical energy is diminished. I also realize I need to listen to my body because I have ignored what it has to say for too long. Last year was really hard and I was in school so didn’t have the time I needed to reflect on the details of how I live my life very much. But with time off from school and while I’m preparing for so many goals being met (presenting ideas that are very important to me at a conference, going to a screening of one of my latest short video projects, finishing up school and exploring graduate programs, my relationships with Kiri and my parents being in such a better place) now is the perfect time to take a closer look. I’m nervous about presenting at the conference and going back East for the film festival on my own, but I know these are amazing opportunities that I can’t pass up. This quote that Kiri gifted me gives me perspective every morning when I wake up…

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Last March, I started getting vertigo around the time I went back to Virginia to see my parents. We almost lost Mom last winter, so I went to see them as soon as spring break started. I had a great visit with my parents and extended family and Mom is doing much better, but the dizziness and uneasy feeling in my body persisted through July 12th. I can pinpoint the exact day because Kiri and I were out of town at a friend’s wedding and took the time to talk and resolve some issues in our relationship. She and I have been through it since we moved in together in December 2007, but we’ve been in couples counseling since February and are finally communicating better as a result of all our hard work.

I’m also making a conscious effort to take it down a notch because when I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist for inner ear tests and an examination regarding the vertigo, she found no physical reasons for it. The doctor and I briefly talked about my history and she suggested I take Ativan for my anxiety (a benzodiazepine). I told her I had been on Klonopin (the heaviest benzodiazepine) for 11 years and carefully tapered off of it over the course of three years, but ended up having a psychotic break in acute withdrawal in 2010. I explained that I was subsequently heavily medicated and have since tapered off all psychotropic medications as of March 2013. With almost a year and a half free from all medications, I have no interest in getting back on them if I can find other ways to reduce my anxiety. She understood, but said I didn’t have to suffer. I told her this made sense to me from her perspective as a doctor, but I have never suffered more than I did being on and getting off of benzodiazepines. So I would prefer to rest over the summer and try other methods. She said many students come to her with dizziness from anxiety because school is so stressful and she hoped my uneasiness would resolve with rest and graduation at the end of this coming school year.

This interaction with the doctor was the real wake-up call that made me realize I need to take it down a notch in more long-lasting ways than my usual methods of self-care. I’ve been doing many of these activities for years and have always wanted to be able to integrate the feeling of calmness I feel when I’m doing them into the rest of my daily life with all of its challenges. But this has been very difficult for me. I feel like there is a lot of static that keeps me from activating ways a I know to calm my mind and body. But I know this static can be quieted down if I slow down in each stressful situation and access what I know on a deeper level.

In early July, I set my mind to taking it down a notch by writing about it, enacting it and talking about it at work, home and with friends. As soon as I talked about it and made it conscious, small ways to cope with stress started coming to me each week. Most of them are really simple, but some have been difficult changes to wrap my head around. But I’m finding that these changes help me focus more on the things in life that I value and enjoy. The more I practice them, the more energy I have to do what I really enjoy, and the more I’m able to accept life’s difficulties, change my perception of them, and change my reactions in stressful situations to reduce my anxiety.

TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH #1: Dress it down

When I was in withdrawal and depressed for so long, I used a cognitive strategy called “act as if”. I dressed really nicely in perfectly matching outfits that helped define who I was in the world when I was feeling really disconnected from my body and sense of self.

I’m working at RRI as a student research assistant this summer. Everyone knows me because I did a 9-month internship before I was hired on. I have nothing to prove to anyone and I feel respected there. This is one of the only times I’ve felt this accepted in a job and it is wonderful! Everyone dresses down, especially with the heat we’ve been having this summer. So, as of mid-July I have been following suit. Unfortunately, work is a many gendered thing… People usually think I’m way younger than my age and I had a lot of problems with that at work in the past. I found myself dressing in certain ways to be more respected or taken more seriously in my physician and academic support positions over the past 10 years. But that doesn’t seem to be necessary where I work now. All of the primary investigators are women, the staff members are mainly women and I feel very supported there. I can be open and honest about who I am and what I’m doing in my life, so I feel more comfortable dressing down. And this has extended to my life outside work, as a result. Friends have said that my goth/punk roots are showing, and that feels good to get back to… Plus, dressing casually makes me feel more casual and relaxed.

TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH #2: If something doesn’t make sense, ask questions

Everyone seems way too hurried in their communication these days. I think texting has a had a huge impact on daily communication at work and in home life, and I really don’t enjoy it. I come from a long line of letter writers on my mom’s side, so it must be in my blood or DNA. I miss the days of letters, cards, postcards and phone conversations between friends. I’ve had three or four really good phone dates with friends who live far away in the last year, and I want to get back to that way of communicating with friends near and far.

I do a lot of trouble-shooting at work. It’s hard to understand what’s going on when people send me a really short, vague email about a problem. This summer, someone forwarded a huge thread of emails that I hadn’t participated in at all. It was all topped with a very short, vague email about what I was supposed to do. This time, before I even looked into the problem, I took a deep breath and typed back, “Could you please clarify what you need from me? There’s so much information here that it’s not clear to me what you want me to do.” This interaction went so well and reduced my stress so much that this has become my protocol for responding to short, vague emails.

I realized that this strategy goes back to something I learned from my Grandma Bryant as a kid, “If something doesn’t make sense to you, just ask.” I’m applying it at home, work, with family–you name it!

TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH #3: Do one thing at a time

When I’m busy, I prioritize what I need to do, but get pulled toward other things in the vicinity. For example, if I’ve been working or studying at home and am starving and need to make lunch (priority #1), I will throw in a load of laundry, clean the catbox and tidy up the kitchen while my food is cooking. I can get a lot done this way, but it isn’t really a lunch break. I think this attitude started in the 70’s… I remember Raquel Welch and Miss Piggy singing, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never never never forget you’re a man…” on the muppet show. I thought it was a really sexy song as a kid, but didn’t realize how much I’ve been socialized to multitask at all times! It has become so ingrained in my mind that I made it part of my work and home life. This mentality is definitely not a good way to reduce stress, so I am working on doing one thing at a time and it feels so much better.

Thanks Raquel and Miss Piggy… but no thanks!

TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH #4: Unplug

I’ve worked in very technical jobs for the last 12 years. While I value and enjoy what I can do with computers in my creative life, I do not enjoy interfacing with them at all when I’ve been staring at one all day at work. This is one of the main reasons I went back to school to switch up my career and hopefully work more with people in the future. Because I have to use computers so much for work, in my free time the last thing I want to do is stare at a screen of any sort. I haven’t owned a television in 14 years and even when I did own one, I only watched VHS tapes or DVDs. I love films so much, but television works my last nerve. And I have to confess that social media does, too. I love being in touch with so many of my friends, but I really have to limit the amount of time I spend engaging with social media.

My decision to unplug more often is directly related to the things in life that I value and enjoy most and what it is about those things that make me feel good. My greatest enjoyments in life occur when I completely unplug or am in various stages of unplugging. First-stage unplugging happens when I do crafts or spacecoaster (lay on the floor on my stomach on a cushion and do breathing exercises before bed) while listening to music. This stage of unplugging also happens when I do yoga with my favorite Alan Finger DVDs, or take photos as I walk or hike. In both of these stages, media and technology are present, but they are used in the service of activities (physical movement) that gets me into a new frame of mind and/or out into the world. These have become very important rituals for me and I try to do two a day.

Second-stage unplugging happens when I socialize. I never check my phone when I’m with friends and Kiri and I have instituted date nights where we turn our phones off. I think it’s rude to be engaged with a screen instead of the person you are together to spend time with. And I think it’s sad when friends or couples don’t talk and only look at their phones over dinner. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I usually only take my phone out with friends if I want to show them something.

Third-stage unplugging is going into nature so far out that you are out of cell range. I need this kind of activity at least once a week, but would prefer it more. When I go camping, my whole physiology changes. The quiet and lack of distractions soothe me and I sleep soundly for up to 12 hours. It always takes a day for my mind to unwind and sometimes my brain downloads with really crazy dreams the fist night, but I don’t wake with a start or have heart palpitations in the middle of the night like I do most nights in the city. There is just far less static in nature and the sensory information is pleasant to me, so I can completely relax. I can focus on the challenges in my life, but I’m not distressed by them. When I feel safe and quiet in nature, everything in my life feels safe and quiet. When the volume of the static in the attic gets turned way down, I am in my body and feel aligned with my surroundings rather than at odds with them. There is nothing to distract me from what I value and enjoy and I feel most like myself.

TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH #5: Be slow and methodical

When I was a young kid, I was very slow and methodical in everything I did. I walked slowly and took a lot of time to reflect. I drew a lot, wrote stories and loved to read and play alone. Even though I was sometimes scolded for it, this was how I lived my life. This changed when we moved out of the rural Eastern Shore and into the suburbs of Portsmouth, Virginia. I was 9 years old and we only lived there for one school year, but that year made a big impression on me. I started getting bullied for qualities about myself beyond my weight, clothes and offbeat personality. That year, my bully was a girl who was held back at least two grades that I had to sit next to because we were seated by height. She was the tallest and I was the second tallest. She was one sadistic 11 year old who thoroughly enjoyed terrorizing me and shaming me for being “too smart” and “too damn slow”. We were also paired in PE and were partners in a public performance for field day which was completely humiliating and sent me into my first long-lasting state of depersonalization where I felt completely disconnected from my body. We performed a syncrhronized ball bouncing routine to music where the kids from my class were spread across the entire field. My tall, blond classmate who looked a lot like Lindsay Wagner the Bionic Woman threw the ball way too hard and it bounced over my head. It rolled off the field and I had to run to get it, which threw the whole routine off. In retrospect, this action in and of itself wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was the culmination of a year of more threatening behavior that was built up because we had practiced the routine for a while and I was really nervous about it. I’m sure my classmate’s life was challenging because she had so much anger and I hope she found healthy ways to resolve it as she matured.

Throughout life we are all taught to “keep up with the crowd” on so many levels–physically, socially, at work, in our daily comings and goings that are so fast-paced–that I grew to believe it wasn’t okay to be the slow and methodical person that I naturally am. Well, this is changing for the better… While other jobs I’ve had have required me to change my pace to keep up with the workflow, research requires slow and methodical examination of the data. Until very recently, I was still caught up in the pace of my previous jobs. It’s been great to get so many accolades for getting so much work done in my new job, but it just isn’t necessary for me to work at such a fast pace. I don’t get as much enjoyment from my work if I’m stressed to do it at a fast pace, and I’m at risk of misinterpreting the data I’m analyzing. So, last week I decided it is perfectly acceptable (and even advisable) for me to take it down an notch and do everything in a very slow and methodical manner. I have definitely applied this to work already and always fall into my natural pace when I’m in nature, but I hope to bring it into my home life, interactions with friends and my studies once school is back in session at the end of September.

I’m going to add strategies as they emerge, so look for updates to this post in the future.

Portland Japanese Garden 8/10/14

August 11, 2014 | Nature Photos and Stories | Permalink

I’ve been wanting to go to the Japanese garden since I moved to Portland, but always find myself going further out to more rugged areas. What a treat it turned out to be!

What impressed me the most was the architecture of the gardens and how quiet it was. We figured there were maybe 200 people in the various gardens while we were there due to the nice weather and the fact that it was the weekend and high tourist season. But it was still pretty quiet and peaceful in the garden. The sound of moving water and breeze in the trees probably contributed to the peacefulness and it was nice that everyone was respecting each person’s quiet time.

My friend Dave and I hung out in a little bamboo structure on a secondary walkway just off the koi ponds. Even though people came through and one little girl stopped by to check the structure out, it felt very private. I liked that there were several paths to take through the various sections of the garden and that even though the stone walking surfaces were narrow, people walked slowly and respected the pace and space of others.

The sheer array of tones of green was amazing! So many types of mosses and leaves and such attention to detail in every planting and constructed feature. I definitely want to go back to see what the garden is like in each season. And going in the middle of the week will be even more quiet and peaceful.

Hydrangea outside the Japanese Garden.

Hydrangea outside the Japanese Garden.

The Winged Mr. Flashy was one of our favorites in the koi ponds.

The Winged Mr. Flashy was one of our favorites in the koi ponds.

I also loved this bright gold koi... some of its scales were iridescent in the sunlight.

I also loved this bright gold koi… some of its scales were iridescent in the sunlight.

Our little bamboo house in the garden.

Our little bamboo house in the garden.

I wanted to take a nap in this space--what a view!

I wanted to take a nap in this raditional Japanese room.

So many shades of green...

So many shades of green!

 

Dave soaking up some rays...

Dave soaking up some rays…

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Tiny tiny log fence...

Tiny tiny log fence…

My first “official” digital story “Small Things…” will be screened in October

August 10, 2014 | Video Projects | Permalink

I produced this 15-minute video project in Portland Community Media’s digital storytelling workshop in Spring 2014.

I took a completely experimental approach to making it–no script and no predetermined outcome about the from it would take. I had raw material from the past (video footage and photos) and knew what themes I wanted to discuss. We worked in teams in our class and my friend Noah and I signed up together, so he did an unstructured interview with me.

It was very challenging to edit, but I’m happy with the end result. “Small Things…” will be screened at the Mad In America International Film Festival in Arlington, Massachusetts October 9-12, 2014.

Vist the Mad In America International Film Festival’s site: http://madinamericainternationalfilmfestival.com/

Bear Lake Hike-It-Out 8/8/14

August 10, 2014 | Nature Photos and Stories | Permalink

The trail to Bear Lake.

The trail to Bear Lake.

The hike to Bear Lake takes you through the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, which reminds me of a Kurosawa movie for some reason. The elevation is 4,000 feet, so the forest is a little barren and all you can hear is the wind blowing through the trees. Ideal hike on a hot summer day…

The forest is well-maintained and there is a lot of bear grass, black huckleberry and Oregon grape along the trail. The trail itself narrow and fairly rocky, which makes it moderate in difficulty. But it’s so short that it isn’t too bad to pack in with a bit of weight on your back. The trail goes over a really cool talus field and then slopes downhill toward Bear Lake.

The lake itself is small and good for swimming. There are supposedly newts in it, but we couldn’t see any from the shore. There are nice camping spots around the lake and it seems like relatively few people hike in to use them. There is also a trail all the way around the lake. We just went for a day hike and sat by the lake for a couple of hours, but we plan to go back and camp soon. The view of the scree slopes of Mount Defiance is as barren and beautiful as the forest and is a great place for quiet times and contemplation. Absolutely beautiful!

Bear grass and Oregon grape along the trail.

Bear grass and Oregon grape along the trail.

The talus field that the trail goes through.

The talus field that the trail goes through.

Bear Lake

Bear Lake

View of Mt. Hood from the road up.

View of Mt. Hood from the road up.

Siouxon Creek Hike-It-Out 8/1/14

August 5, 2014 | Nature Photos and Stories | Permalink

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Siouxon Creek is one of my favorite hikes in Oregon. The trail is easy to navigate and the terrain is very smooth and soft compared to other trails. It’s also nice to hear the rush of the creek through the entire hike!

The forest is managed really well and there is a lot of moss and mushrooms in all seasons. The area where you can camp by the waterfall and  close to the creek bed is well-maintained–never any garbage or other forms of human or dog waste (eww!) like there is in many state or national parks. This place rocks!

It was in the upper 80’s on my third visit to Siouxon Creek. We hiked in 2 miles and took a break by the waterfall to have lunch and rest. I don’t usually nap on hikes, but I found a really nice shady spot in a big patch of moss with mossy branch pillow that was just the right size to prop my head on. I felt like Hippolyta in her forest bower in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and had a very refreshing nap. No noise, no bugs and no unexpected visitors!

Please click any of the images below to see a full-size version.

The Siouxon Creek Trail.

The Siouxon Creek Trail.

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So many huge standing dead trees… I love them.

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Hello lil’ shroomer…

Shaded by Devil's Club.

Shaded by Devil’s Club.

 

Coral Mushroom

Beautiful Coral Mushroom… I had never seen one before.

 

Siouxon Creek

Siouxon Creek

At the top of the falls.

At the top of the falls.

My friend Carly cut her river teeth :-) The falls in the background...

My friend Carly cut her river teeth 🙂 The falls in the background…

This is how it felt napping in the moss by the falls. ("Titania" by Frederick Howard Michael, 1896.)

This is how it felt napping in the moss by the falls. (“Titania” by Frederick Howard Michael, 1896.)

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Post-nap in the moss under devil’s clubs.