Sunday, December 31, 2023

Roses, Thorns, and Buds

I considered archiving this blog because I struggle to keep up with it and have taken to using social media to share what I normally would have posted here - it's just easier! But, everyday while working from my home office I look at an old Vision Board I made in 2017 and it includes the words "journal more." I've realized that while I love my vision board because I was able to accomplish the big goals: pass the PE, find healthy love, travel more, etc. - the rest was all about habits. Habits that I've managed to start and stop inconsistently for over five years... This blog is like that and part of my journaling habit. 2023 may have been a year of few blogged thoughts, but maybe 2024 will be the year I write more!

There's so much that happened this year that I have nowhere to start and I started writing this post a few times this month. I also started feeling guilty for some of the somber feelings I've had about the challenges of 2023 when in spite of them, I had so many wonderful opportunities and experiences to be grateful for. I'm going to try again and use the nature reflection activity I use with the youth in my nature excursions.

Rose - highlights. 

Thorn - challenges.

Bud - things I'm looking forward to in 2024.


  • Moving into my new home and it feeling like home. Over the last month I've been a bit of a recluse because I'm enjoying being home so much. 
  • Moving back to my old work group. There are a lot of bad jokes about government employees and their lack of productivity, but I can honestly say, I work with a group of incredibly hard working, competent, and smart as hell engineers. They respect the rate payer dollar more than any group I've worked in (and I've worked in a few at the City) and I didn't realize how lucky I was until I had left. Returning to the comfort of a good team was a relief and one I needed this year. Big rose. I may be frustrated in so many ways working in the bureaucracy, but I really love my core team. 
  • Travel - Yucatan Peninsula in Tulum and enjoying my first week as 31 in Costa Rica. Both trips were right on time and the first trips I'd really tuned out everything to rest and explore. 
  • Co-creating an amazing Community Environmental Justice Indicator zine with friends at CCC / Unite Oregon / Multnomah County. It was a big labor of love and a project that I was so happy to see come to fruition. Read the zine HERE. 
  • Speaking engagements and the amazing people I met at all of them. My first keynote was the Annual Southern Oregon's Black Youth Leadership Summit and I am ecstatic to now know a community of thriving Black educators and students in Southern Oregon. I also visited Harvard for the first time as a speaker at their first Summit on Energy and Environmental Solutions (SEES) event. A student ran event with amazing humans I was so humbled to have been included with! 
  • Starting my first paid contracts as a "consultant," including a culturally specific field guide for exploring Portland's parks/nature. Seeing pictures of students using my field guide and leading a hike to pilot the curriculum in Oxbow Park was a huge highlight. I'll be adding some pages to preview on my website later this week! Stay tuned next year for the revised final :) 
  • Hosting, planning, and co-creating over 20 events with community organizations that have meant a lot to me. STEM workshops, professional development, focus groups, environmental education, little free library builds, etc. 
  • Art Shows - it is so hard for me to make time for my creative practice, but I was able to prioritize applying for a few this, including my favorite showing this year: 'Black History is History,' which was an incredible curation by artists, Daren Todd and Steph Littlebird. 
  • Becoming a mentor with Holla Mentors. I have only known my mentee for a few months, but I feel so lucky to have been paired with a such a perfect match. For those who know me well, most know I am not interested in becoming a parent, but I've been big sister / community auntie for dozens of kids who are now adulting. Because I don't teach anymore, I haven't had a "mentee" in a while and never been an official mentor. It is so fun to spend time and get to know my mentee with Holla. The organization is SO well organized and both mentor/mentees feel celebrated / supported. I could rave about Holla for a long time, but it is an amazing program and it's nice to give back to an organization that means a lot to my family personally. 


  • I was really bad at making time to process the feelings of fear and grief I had related to my mom's health. I made myself busier than I have ever been to distract from the walking grief of knowing one of the most special people in my life was suffering from an incurable heart condition. There are lots of bad days, but there are a lot of really good days too. Seeing mom do everything she can to make the best of those days is inspiring. She has an infectious curiosity, laughs often, and loves my sister and I a little harder! 
  • This year I also learned a lot about grief and how much being an empath is painful. I served a term of Grand Jury duty and it threw a monkey wrench in my life in ways I couldn't have predicted. What I thought would be a break from work ended up being a month of the most emotionally tiring days of my life. Second hand trauma is real. I learned so much about our justice system and the underbelly of our city. I still tear up in certain spots around the city and I can't watch crime shows or horror like I used to. While I can't say much more, I don't quite think I've been the same since. I have pushed further into my social justice work and I can no longer tolerate oblivious privilege / apathy, or, frankly, sociopathic sentiment I've seen in our media outlets (and local politicians) who berate the experiences the people of this City are facing. 
  • Railroads, sinkholes, and permits, oh my. Not gonna say more, but I had a few restless work nights dealing with those... 
  • Non-Profit Toxicity. I continue to be burned out and burned with non-profits. As someone who is action focused, I give a lot of myself to the organizations I serve and there's only so much that can be given before it starts to feel just like capitalism's extraction of labor. I'm still learning boundaries and I will be make sure to build good things with good people in 2024. It is also unlikely you'll see me joining any new boards in the future. Please don't ask me. 
  • Grief and anger for all that is going on in the world and how truly powerless I feel sometimes. Free Palestine, Congo, and all the oppressed people in this world. We're not free until we're all free. I don't want to hear about how folks justify their taxes going to a genocide when we have a food insecurity, housing insecurity, privatized healthcare, and educational debt plaguing our people in this country. 


  • Creating a succession plan for NSBE Portland Professionals! After two years (and four years total in a leadership role), my term is complete as President of our chapter. I have recruited a great President Elect. I'll still be President and have a few events I'm leading in 2024, but I'm looking forward to this transition. 
  • Less boards means more time to focus on fulfilling projects
  • Gardening for community and spending time in my mini greenhouse. My partner and I took the first steps in getting rid of our front lawn to build a mutual aid community garden. More updates in 2024. It's a project we're really excited about. We also planted a field of clover for pollinators in our back yard. 
  • Next steps in my career. This week I got a rejection for what I thought was my dream job out of engineering. I'm taking it as a sign to find a way to stay in my field for a little longer and something else is in store for me. Looking forward to exploring that. 
  • Japan 2024. I will be getting myself more active to plan for the thousands of steps per day I will be walking in Japan next November.
Here's hoping 2024 brings more roses and buds. I expect thorns, but I'm ready!

Not a rose, but I'm really into ferns right now. These were incredible in Costa Rica. I have been cutting paper stencils for an art piece over the last month.