“The secret is not to dream,” she whispered. “The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I’m going. You cannot fool me anymore. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.” – Tiffany Aching, The Wee Free Men

For me it’s like this: I’m gonna check my privilege here first. I am a white cis gendered woman who grew up middle class. I didn’t have everything I wanted, but I never had to WORK for what I needed until well after high school. I may be queer and have a documented disability now (epilepsy), but those parts of me didn’t impact how I moved through the world until well into my adulthood.

When I reached the point in life where my parents no longer paid my bills, it dovetailed with us splitting on beliefs and ideology and sometimes really simple things, and I had this hard realization. My parents didn’t exist to take care of me. I existed to take care of me. My blood family is a good thing, but it involves a lot of negotiating and often because I’m queer and now married, they can be difficult negotiations. But nothing changes with them unless I stand up for myself.

I’m feeling this way about the US government, especially today, because through history we’ve (we = white people) expected the government to be our parents. We put presidents in power and expect them to take care of us. Presidents, senators, reps, governors, all the way down the line, and clearly that’s not going to work. It’s not how it’s ever worked. Those folks have abused their power. I, personally, have felt safe the last eight years, knowing that Obama is in the White House. And that’s just like letting my dad pay my rent. It’s passive and irresponsible. It’s me not taking care of my country or my rights or my future. It’s me putting all my trust in one guy.

And people of color have known this is how it works all along. They know the government isn’t their friend. Their protector. Their buddy. They’ve had to fight, protest, resist, organize, etc, all along to get any rights.

And now liberal, white folks, those of us who want to wake up instead of dream, we are learning the lessons of a young person meeting the real world. Daddy’s not gonna bail you out anymore. And honestly, Daddy wasn’t doing you any good bailing you out in the first place, because it made you believe that having your person in power meant you were going be taken care of. Like some spoiled college kid. That shit ain’t gonna cut it anymore it. Sorry.

Basically, all this is to say, is we gotta grow up. Americans need to be adults about self-governance. Because regardless how it was with cool Dad Obama, we don’t have parents now. We’re on our own. We’re gonna have bills to pay and have needs to address. You’re going to need to negotiate with that government. Local and state government, first. We are gonna have to step up and govern ourselves. Every damn day.

I’m not saying I want to be here. I am saying we have to be.

Here’s the thing: when I decided to marry Kristl and settle down in Chicago, I thought the idea of “Life by Wandering” was kind of done.

The idea being that I would live a whole bunch of different places, and get to know this country, this world, by living in for a year or two in them. The best way to understand a place is to live in it, get to know the locals, make a few friends, set down a few roots, and pick up the essence of the place.

I’ve done this in several places in the midwest: Grand Rapids, MI; Toledo, OH, Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL (yes, the actual city of Chicago.) I’ve also lived in Denver, CO, San Francisco, CA, and Tokyo, Japan. Some of these places I only spent a couple months. Some I spent years. But up until my relationship with Kristl, I was convinced that I was going to be constantly on the move.

Bear with me if you know this, but Kristl was an acupuncturist and she had a significant brick and mortar practice. In fact, by the time she decided to sell that practice and move on, she had her own practice space with three treatment rooms and was grossing over six figures of income. She was successful, but it was unlikely that we were going to leave Chicago with that kind of career.

However, my dream of travel, living all over, and seeing the country and the world in a very intimate way didn’t die. It intensified, and I wasn’t alone. About a year ago, Kristl heard a podcast interview of a couple who both have location independent jobs and live in an RV together. And they weren’t in their 60’s. They were a little younger than us.

An RV? Remote work? Location independence? These terms were like fresh spring water after a long walk in the desert. The truth behind Kristl’s practice was that it was successful in it’s own right, and it was paying the bills, but it wasn’t touching her student loan debt. Also, she felt chained to it. We love Chicago, but we were both ready to try something new. We reasoned out some viable timelines, two to three years to build up the practice and transition out, five years at most. I would do farming and sustainability coaching. Easy-peasy.

Then I had a life threatening illness in May and the picture changed dramatically. A cozy three to five year plan seemed foolish. Why waylay your life goals when you never know how much time you could have?

We decided to move to North Carolina in the fall. Kristl would sell her practice. We would start a business together. We would figure things out. The most important thing was to be healthy, to find joy, to move closer to the goal of being able to freely see more of the world and by that understand more of who I am.

We moved at the very end of October. It’s mid April now. This road has not been easy. I am not a natural entrepreneur. I have learned much about myself, and I have had opportunities to redefine many parts of who I know myself to be. I think if you knew me in college or grad school (or even high school, if we’re going that far back), you’ll find me a much less flamboyant, more willing to listen individual than I ever was.

Regardless, I realized that I thought I had to completely let go of this wandering dream to be with Kristl, and suddenly here we are, in a much bigger way, pursuing it together. I never would have thought to pursue remote work or to start my own business to live in many different places. It is through this partnership that the legacy of Life by Wandering lives on.

We are getting our things in order. We may well be in North Carolina for a while yet, but that dream is slowly becoming a reality. The nuts and bolts of a life of real travel are coming into focus. Time is a construct, frustrating though that truth might be. Anytime something is trying your patience, remember that you don’t know all the beauty, magic, and infinite good that is taking place to make the thing you are waiting for come into being exactly as it is supposed to, at exactly the right time.

Allllllll of this is to say that I LOVE that I don’t need to rename or restart my blog. I can just restart exactly where I left off. If you ever feel like you are a wanderer, remember you don’t have to wander aimlessly, you can wander with a purpose. You can wander with a map, and use Google maps. You can live your life by wandering and see the whole damn world. That’s what I’m doing.


Does that sound good? It’s been years since I wrote on this blog. Did you even know it still existed? So much has changed. I won’t boooooore you with the details. You can find them other places. Or you can ask me. Well, I suppose, a cliff notes version won’t take too long.

  • I started blogging with Kristl on Sustainably Queer in 2012.
  • We got married in 2013. I also got diagnosed with epilepsy after a grand mal seizure.
  • I quit my higher ed job to pursue Urban Agriculture in early 2014.
  • I did an awesome internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden that summer.
  • Kristl and I finally made it to Italy in the fall of 2014.
  • In early 2015, I start to learn about entrepreneurship, coaching, social media marketing, fancy stuff, and I tried to monetize Sustainably Queer.
  • In May of 2015, I had an emergency surgery because of a life threatening ear infection that went rogue, and it kind of turned our world upside down.
  • In the fall of 2015, Kristl and I left Chicago for Chapel Hill, NC and have been here ever since.

That’s the briefest of the brief. Oh the internal work. Oh the lessons I’ve learned.

Dearest friends: career changes, working for yourself, life threatening illness, not knowing where your support system will come from or your next money to pay they bills. These are significant challenges. I’ve been through some excellent times in the last four years and I have been through some significant trauma.

I can safely say I am coming back to myself, now with the help of some healers, some wonderful friends, and my dear partner who has been by my side through it all.

Want to test a young marriage? Try all of the above. Especially the part where you move to a new state and don’t have any money, any support system to speak of, and any jobs. That’s a goooooood test. Try it.

I’m not bragging. I’ve got only my heart to show for it. I’ve only really kept myself through it all, and I lost part of that for a while. Well, I didn’t so much lose myself, as I wasn’t able to see and access myself. It wasn’t safe for me to be me.

But here I am again. Ready to share. Ready to be vulnerable. Ready to laugh and play. Ready to post, show you my thoughts and hear your feedback. Because life is a give and take. It’s gotta be both. Stay in the flow, my friends. May you be well.

When I was doing a lot of commuting on the L in Chicago, I did a lot of sitting on trains and writing poetry on my phone.  I’ve had my iPhone for three years, but before that, I would use the notes app on my iPod touch.  These aren’t the best poems I’ve written, but hopefully they will make you smile.

City Soul  – October 20, 2010

A city is see through its inhabitants,
for without them, it would be an empty soul

And soul, what are you but a city of ceaseless
thought and many formless dreams?

I find my soul in the city. And the city
holds my soul in the palm of its many hands.

Creation – December 26, 2010

I am at the creation of all things cold
and my breath is fleeting
The world is coming together;
Glacial mountains muscled from the
earth, sewn and stitched with
tendons of ice

Those few beings present to meet
the snow
Will be forever cast in rays of silver;
Laid on the ground
In frozen repose

In this moment, I too am made:
To bear the lightness of things
To ever hobble toward the vast
Closeness of new uncertainty
To peer, unwilling, into
Uncomfortable truths

There has been little more asked of
One so clean and new,
I am undone; I am cold

A Lesson – July 18, 2011

There is a slight bent to every line;
A slight curve to all deemed straight.
And you’ll never notice until you’ve
followed it all the way.

The world is not flat; it’s gay.

Ode to Walt’s Teddy Bear Revised February 25, 2014

You, at first, seemed perfect
Wholly intact and unfazed
But I have discovered your seems
And your creases
The easy way you fit together
A little stuffing protruding
Evidence of a life well lived

It does not matter if you are missing
an eye, or a button
Ever so well-loved and lost-causely,
You are the emblem of those ruined,
yet saved
You are a boon to those seeking a boon

You are a comfort to me.

I’ve been pretty quiet on this blog.  To be honest, I’ve been pretty quiet on every blog I’m connected to.  I contemplated a list of thirty interesting goals for my twenty-ninth year, and posted them here last September, not really considering what the last year of my twenties might have in hold for me.  Let’s be real here for a moment.  I will go back through that list and tell you what I got to at some point.  I have read most of the books (because I’m a good reader; I read well over thirty books a year anyways, it’s not a stretch goal by any means).  But as for the list of thirty goals… well that hasn’t gone so well.  Because I’ve been doing this instead:

1. Getting married (pretty awesome, thanks Iowa, reception to follow…)

2. Getting diagnosed with epilepsy (less awesome, but now we know)

3. Quitting my full-time job in higher education (missing the steady $$, not missing the steady database time)

4. Going back to school (so, so, so, so good)

5. Switching careers to Urban Agriculture (the best)

6. Trying to come up with a satisfying business plan for life coaching to make ends meet while I do points 3-5 (an interesting tight-rope walk)

7. Helping Kristl open a storefront for her acupuncture business (way more work than you could possibly imagine, but it’s a beautiful thing)

8. Deciding to move our abode (albeit to a much nicer place) without a whole lot of notice (steam shower! way nicer kitchen! free laundry!)

9. Digging up our previous back yard and putting in a garden plot (with the help of neighbors, it’s all good)

10. Dealing with really interesting side effects from epilepsy medications (so drunk)

11. Taking on a challenging summer internship as part of my Urban Agriculture program (read: challenging supervisor)

12. Learning how to run a farm stand (everything must go)

13. Planning a baby shower from another state (harder than it sounds)

14. Planning a wedding reception on a very small budget (challenges, challenges everywhere)

15. Planning a trip to Italy on a small budget (workin’ it)

16. Becoming comfortable with the title of “house spouse” (so much cleaning!)

17. Learning how to make better boundaries with my dear mother who doesn’t deal well with boundaries (Oh, Nona…)

18. Learning how to do basic plumbing, construction, tool sharpening, hose repair, etc (highly recommended)

19. Finding a whole lot of sanity by getting away from a computer desk and spending all day in a field with plants for work (peace and calm)

20. Connecting with friends and family from other states that I haven’t spoken with in a while (see also, wedding reception invitations)

21. Taking on leadership responsibility in my community choir (real talk)

22. Trying to keep up at least with monthly posts on sustainablyqueer.com (nine on the ninth)

23. Studying as much as I can about the fruits and vegetables that are in season while I am working with them (a whole book on cranberries is not enough)

24. Planning for the post-school part of my life, where I need to start earning money again, in my own gardening business or otherwise (I can tell you anything you want to know about potatoes)

25. Keeping track of all friends who are also caught up in this crazy year, getting engaged and/or married, having babies, traveling, starting businesses, changing careers, moving… it’s a big year for a lot of us. (keep it up, work it out!)

26. Being honored for the Windy City Times 30 Under 30 (a big, lovely surprise!)

27. Doing our best to live as sustainably as possible, meaning eating most meals at home, eating out at restaurants that source their meat and vegetables at local farms, and doing our best to conserve water, gas, and electricity. (we try, it doesn’t always work out, but we try)

28. Working to build relationships and network in the local food and sustainability community.  There is a lot more of this to come for me, but I’m starting to get my feet wet.  I’m hoping I will get into a networking rhythm. (Networking is professional bullshit talk for learning how to get strangers to like you… usually I ignore strangers, or try to charm them by being goofy… please give me some networking tips in the comments below, because these approaches do not always work, especially in more professional settings)

29. Finally getting off of my parents family plan and having control over my own cell phone and my own cell service. Woo! (Now I am completely financially independent, also, I am saving $15-30 a month.  Try out Ting everybody!)

30. Budgeting! This is on hold for the moment, but Kristl and I have had great success with You Need a Budget (YNAB) software and the accountability it brings into your spending life and getting out of credit card debt life. It’s AWESOME!

(SIDENOTE: I have codes for those last two that get you a discount, so let me know if you want to buy YNAB or sign up for Ting because yes they work and YES they are amazing.  Ok, cool.)

Anyways, all this is to say that of course I wanted to finish all the lovely things on my 30 by 30 list. They were worthwhile things.  They were important. And I think I will still end up doing them. I did write some letters, and I did get engaged and married, so check that off. But I wrote that list with out the smallest inkling out how huge this year was really going to be. I had no clue I was going to take a huge plunge professionally. I had no clue I was going to get married so soon and move over the summer and that Kristl was going to open a store front. Everything that’s happening is amazing and beautiful and meaningful and completely overwhelming. Yes, it would have been ideal to have it spaced out a little bit, but we cannot have everything we want. And maybe I didn’t really need to have it all spaced out. I don’t suppose I needed to have epilepsy either, but it certainly is humbling and it keeps me pretty empathetic towards others whose bodies may not be functioning at full capacity. On the other hand, having a congenital brain disorder hasn’t really stopped me one bit. The side effects have been difficult this summer, but they haven’t taken me out of the game, and I’ve learned that if I really want to have a career in agriculture or horticulture, or if it turns into something else entirely, they way my brain is formed is not going to stand in my way.

Decades are nice little square boxes for humans to divide their life periods into, but in reality they don’t mean a whole lot.  I have felt like I have been in a “next stage” for at least a year already. I’ve been telling people I’m thirty for two months already; I’m not good at odd numbers. According to astrology, the period of transition of late twenties into early thirties is particularly impactful on a person’s life path because the planet Saturn only returns to it’s same alignment every thirty years or so. So, your Saturn Return happen about every thirty years. If you are going to see a big natural change or refreshment in your life (again, according to the planets) this is the time when you can really hit that restart button.  

I guess I would say this is true in respect to my peers, many of whom really didn’t get their work in order until they were around thirty, anyways. Whether or not the planets have any quantifiable impact on humankind, which I’m sure we could argue about for days, I’ve also noticed that people in their second Saturn Return tend to find a new focus or renew an old one right around 58-60, so maybe astrology does have something going for it. All this is to say that, whatever is aligning for me, it is aligning all at once and it has gotten in the way of my super mundane middle-class, white-person goals, and I have been pushed to the limit to stay awake and stay focused this year. God, the Universe, my sweet departed ancestors, whomever/whatever is pulling the strings, even if it is my own thoughts and subconscious ambitions, needs to cool it because what was supposed to be a somewhat low key year of learning and regeneration, has become a year of supercharged, full-forced, “do all the things” type day-to-day.  Kristl and I need a freaking vacation.

Don’t worry, we have one planned… in a couple months… In the meantime, tell me, oh wise, older ones who are better at networking than I am, all your networking tips and tricks.  And then, seriously, who else has had a crazy year? Big wins, big losses? SO MANY CHANGES? The Chinese Zodiac calls this the year of the Wooden Horse.  Read the description of the Wooden Horse: 

The Wood Horse year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But you have to act fast in a Horse year. If you are not 100% secure about a decision, then don’t do it. Events move so quickly in a Horse year that you don’t want to gallop off in the wrong direction.

Anyways, so, if this year has been moving at a blinding pace for you too, blame it on the planets, or the Chinese horses.  Next year is supposed to be more about creativity and relationships.  Something warm and cozy to look forward to.


I have about five weeks left of my twenties.  I have about five weeks left to read some these books and maybe take some dedicated Instagram pictures and do some yoga.  I could easily complete some of these 30 by 30 tasks, but what will I have gained? I set up the exercise to have accomplished something by the time I turned thirty, but I did not set any really high bars, because I think I knew this year was going to hold really big surprises.  Maybe I should set 33 goals for 33 now, and set them really high (I really want to ride in a hot air balloon!) Three years to garner my resources and plan.  Make some big strides and get ready for 33 because 33 is the best number of them all. 😉

Thanks for reading!


30 by 30 Lists

I will be turning 30 on September 26, 2014, and I am planning on doing 30 things this year that I have wanted to do for a while.  Included are items related to my work, my hobbies, my relationship, and other life stuff.  It’s a grand mixture, but hopefully you will encourage me as the year goes on.  I plan to blog about my experiences and I will strike through items on this list as I finish them AND my third decade.

Note: I have this list saved as a page, so we/I can refer to it easily!

1. Perfect home made tom yum soup

2. Make kimchi at home

3. Take a romantic moonlit lake walk with kristl

4. Write letters to my 5 best friends telling them why I love them

5. Write letters to my parents telling them why I love them

6. Volunteer with Chicago food depository

7. Write letter to self at 40

8. Master basic Italian in mindsnacks

9. Do the Whole 30 for one month

10. Complete 5 self portraits in 5 different mediums

11. Do yoga every day for one month

12. Buy nothing for a week (intentionally)

13. Create handwriting font

14. Learn basic html

15. Learn advanced squarespace/wordpress editing

16. Kayak in the Chicago river

17. Take a Chicago architecture boat tour

18. Go on a silent retreat (weekend of silence)

19. Take a photo a day and post it on a dedicated instagram

20. Launch my life coaching business

21. Study the … and put it into practice (shhh)

22. Get rid of everything I don’t use or need in my closet

23. Clean out the junk at my parent’s house

24. Go geocaching in Chicago with Kristl

25. Make our tabletops into tables

26. Finish current crochet blanket

27. Open an etsy shop for lino cut cards and chakra bracelets

28. Go to an outdoor fitness class (tai chi/qi qong)

29. DJ Dance Dance Party Party

30. Get engaged and plan wedding

(30 books to read by the time I’m 30 on the next page…)

30 books for 30 Years

I also plan to read thirty books while I’m 29 which were suggested by my friends.  I haven’t 100% solidified this list yet, but the suggestions so far are listed below.

Lamb by Christopher Moore

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

The Snow Train by Joseph Cummins

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

When the Stars Fell to Earth by Rebecca Tinsley

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Be Here Now by Ram Dass

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Harley Loco by Rayya Elias

The Guernsey Library and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows/Mary Ann Shaffer

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz

Chinaman by Shehan Karuntil

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The View from Saturday by EL Konigsburg

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

East of Eden by Steinbeck

Sexing the Cherry by Winterson

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Native Speaker by Chang Rae-Lee

So Far from God by Ana Castillo

Revenant Road by Michael Boatman

 Bonuses: Dr. Sleep by Stephen King (because I have to)
Blankets by Craig Thompson

I’ve been writing off and on through this blog for a few years now (mostly off) and now I’m starting on a new project with my partner Kristl called Sustainably Queer.  That doesn’t mean that I will not be posting on Life By ImageWandering, because it is still my blog; the only one that belongs entirely to me.  So, if I have something to post that is unrelated to sustainable living and our experience with it, I will post it in here.  However, we are off to a strong start on Sustainably Queer and I really think that if you have enjoyed my writing over here, you will still enjoy it over there. 

We’ve posted four entries thus far, the first being about our experience with the Chicago Food Swap (it was awesome), then a catalog post of what we do to earn the “sustainable” title.  The two most recent posts have been about stock from scraps and pickles from scraps, respectively.

Please check it out and add it to your reader.  Follow us on twitter @sustainablyQ and keep an eye out for a forthcoming Facebook page.  All this is to say there is gonna be some serious action going on on sustainablyqueer.com and I’m excited for you to join the discussion.

Thanks friends!  And I hope you enjoy Sustainably Queer!