Thursday, October 31, 2013

What’s in a name? Part 1: Honey Mama

 I am here to romp, roam, and run the trails in this wild place and reclaim the wild within myself, with my four-legged sidekicks Honey Bearskins Rug,a mutt German Sheprador Hound and our Blues Heeler, Petzl, at my side.

In effort to find a way back in time, in order to deal with life moving forward at a swift and rapid pace.  

I am here to claim my place in The Wild.  

Honey Mama represents the boldest, bravest, most adventurous personification of myself.  

Let’s be clear about something, there are things Honey Mama can do, or should I say has the balls to try, that my normal every-day city-girl-at-heart self is in no way capable of considering, attempting, or executing.  

Examples include: stepping out my front door on a family hike following along game trails deep into the woods, firing a .44, .22 (any firearm really); ripping apart a spruce hen with my bare hands, holding a still-warm tiny heart in my hands, and cooking it up for dinner in a cast iron pot on an eight burner beast of a wood-fired cook stove; holding down The Lodge for an overnight with the kids while the husband is “In Town”; and the simple act of being solitary in the woods.  Honey Mama is that voice that tells fear and doubt to shut the hell up and gives me the courage to try something wild.  

Honey Mama is one of the mom-inspired names my son George proudly bestowed upon me around the time he turned three.  A combination of the most often used pet name my husband has given me, Honey and marrying that to the Mama in me, and Honey Mama was born.  I thought George might call me that for a week or two, then forget about it and the sweet nickname would fade into the mist of memory and somehow be forgotten. 

Honey Mama quickly became a favorite title for both 
of my kids to call me and it started to stick.  

When we were in the early stages of orchestrating our big move I knew I wanted to blog about it, but I have never written a blog before and even the smallest steps felt like long, slow hill climbs. I spent a fair ridiculous amount of time brainstorming ideas for blog names and came up with all sorts of titles that described specific aspects of my life, compartments.  

Running.  Cooking.  Mothering. Crafting. Writing. Reading. Music. Following your bliss.  Living an inspired life.  Yearning for Wilderness.  Childhood dreams and the maddening pursuit of life, liberty, freedom -- destiny.  

Every idea I had represented something, but no idea represented everything.  I was challenged with the task of coming up with a title that encompasses what I envision this journey to be about, before I even took one step out our front door into the cul-de-sac and headed into The Wild.  I finally decided to stop driving myself crazy procrastinating and chose a "temporary title", a place holder until something "good" came along.  I  picked something close to my heart, something that made me smile and think of the sweet way George and Maya say "Honey Mama".  I created the blog page and used the title as a place holder for formatting and made a note to dream up something better in the meantime. I didn't tell anyone about the title, the existence, the birth of The Blog, but it was the first step in finding my new place in the world.  Putting something down on paper and running with it if the feeling is right, no matter how flawed and imperfect it may be, and moving forward.  
Once the moving truck was loaded and the last box packed we came down with a wicked cold and I had a lot of time to lay there and question my existence.  I spent the time horizontal, unable to move, uncomfortably resting on camp mats, in an empty house, waiting on the closing of the three real estate transactions that were orchestrated delicately.  I called it The House of Cards.  In the end the transactions happened 3 weeks late and somehow managed to close within 24 hours of each other. I signed the closing documents for the sale of The Labrador House with a 102.6 fever, and declared that my final streaking day. I had been running a minimum of one mile per day since Thanksgiving (2012).  I used the feverish haze to my advantage and brainstormed random and seemingly useless thoughts about what I wanted this blog to be:  
Is it about living in a little log house on the edge of 13,175,799 acres of National Park and Preserve?  The literal edge of the last frontier, or; 

Reclaiming the lost knowledge of hunting, gathering, trapping, and subsisting

Staying in touch with family and friends? 

Cooking a broad assortment of foods ranging from vegan to heavily carnivorous, glutenized to gluten-freesavory and sweet?  

Handcrafting unique items with a ball of yarn and two sticks, a vintage sewing machine and freecycled craft supplies, and repurposed objects

Was it about the journey to claim ones destiny, following Wilder Childhood Dreams of being Laura

Or was I here to tell my story of a previously life: me as a sedentary, overweight, out of shape, non-athletic, wild animal fearing city girl transitioning into a trail running, bear aware woman of the wild, pushing up against the very limits my physical and mental experience with the end goal of running Ultra Marathon distances, for fun? 

Or was it going to be about the nuances of rural living presented as a compare and contrast narrative, featuring our attempts to figure out how to survive out here, despite what some might argue is a lack of general knowledge common sense in the art of rural Alaskan living and the act of survival, with two kids ages 4 and 5 along for the ride?
In the end, I decided it was about all of these things and all the undiscovered bits and pieces that will be revealed along The Journey.  There was no way I could condense, compartmentalize, or whittle this wild smattering of interests, passion and madness down into a neat, perfect little package. So I just went with it.

     The blog was born out of a desire to share an experienceOur experience.  One normal (enough) city-dwelling family, selling the perfect home, in the perfect neighborhood, leaving a perfect job, and my much-loved Anchorage running (and triathlon) community in search of something we are not yet able to fully articulate.  The one thing I do know is whatever “It” is, I need to be here in order to experience it.  

The more I thought about it, the more fitting Honey Mama Runs Wild became.  

Honey Mama was born out of pure love and what I suspect is my son’s ideal version of his mother.  The Mary Poppins like version of myself, the sweetest, most patient, albeit flawed and imperfect motherly vision.  A vision I had for myself when I was pregnant with George five years ago.  It turns out Honey Mama represented everything I had hoped I could be.

    This journey is about achieving something I cannot define.  

When discussing the idea to move someplace rural, remote I struggled with the question: Am I running away from something? I didn’t think I was, but how else can you explain the desire to leave a comfortable, secure life in The City, filled with family, friends, a vital running and triathlon community in exchange for vast wilderness, isolation, mind-numbing cold, and total insecurity.  No safety net.  No plan B.  

I wasn’t able to answer that question before we moved here, but I didn’t let that stop me from moving forward.  Guided by a quote that found me during this phase of deep contemplation and personal reflection: “You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.” (unknown).  Once we were here a while I decided I wasn’t running away from anything.  Instead, I was running toward something.  Something real, authentic, and destined.  The way in which the pieces magically fell together leaves me with no other explanation than fate.  While it is true we did put a tremendous amount of work into pulling this vision off, the reality is the forces that truly made it possible were far beyond our control and we are here, in part, for reasons that exist outside our family.  We are here to be part of a Community.  To share the vision of living a wild life with our neighbors and to be part of something we can truly rally behind and devote our lives to fully.  This is not the story of a comfortable existence, nor is it one of struggle and hardship.  

It’s about one family choosing a different way to live, and having either the blessing or curse of faith fueled optimism and a touch of romanticism about living someplace on the edge of the wilderness.

I want our children learn that anything is possible, no dream too big or far-fetched, no road too long to run. I want to raise our children with the knowledge that a wild life is a valid choice and the only constraints on our experience are ones we place upon ourselves.  
So we gave up the idea of perfection and opted to try something completely  different, not knowing if we were truly hardy enough to take on such an adventure.  We swapped the perfect house for an imperfect unfinished one, where crayon on a wall and grape juice on a carpet are not frustrating catastrophes.  Instead we take note of the incidents and when we have a moment get to it, and not a moment before.  The imperfect house with flawed carpet and 30 year old panled walls has turned out to be more perfect than the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood.  Opting instead, for a more relaxed house and a more relaxed life has already opened new doors in our consciousness and has revealed new, lesser taken paths in our day-to-day experiences.  This different path has revealed possibilities that I didn’t know existed, until I arrived here.  Dreams I didn’t know I had have rose up to meet me with the painted sky sunrises over the Mentasta Mountains.  

Visions for the future.  

We’ve been home for two and a half months and in that time not a single day has gone by without some kind of affirmation creeping into our daily life.  Confirming we made the right decision and are on the right track, even if we don’t know what that means or what direction we are heading in.  Living a life rooted in our wildest dreams and childhood visions of adulthood.  Wings to flyFreedom.  

The vision of Honey Mama is what enabled me to step away from comfort and security and go out searching for the bravest, most-bad ass version of myself and gave me the permission to put it all out there, to share it, without agonizing about the imperfections.  The journey to becoming Wild Mountain Honey Mama: Woman of the Wrangell-St. Elias Frontier has given me permission to move forward in life, despite the fact we lack a sustainable long-range plan. Reclaiming a lost dream that is rooted in our shared values and vision for the 
future; fueled by hopes and dreams.  
- H.M. Wild  
Coming soon: What’s In a Name? Part 2: The Moose Lodge 

Photo (Left): Me, age 4.  Early grooming to live a life where an ATV is a reasonable vehicle for running errands and taking kids to the bus stop.

New photos are always going up on Honey Mama Runs Wild, check them out and be sure to "like" the Facebook page! 

P.S. As I wrapped up this post a song came on my live-stream radio that I didn’t quite place and made me stop and take note.  I had to share it here because I had just wrote about the little signs, daily affirmations delivered in unexpected, serendipitous ways.  It was The Lumineers cover of The Talking Heads: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), and it nearly brought me to tears and gave me a flutter in my heart, another bit of affirmation that I am exactly where I need to be. I love both versions, each brings something different.  In this place and time the cover resonates on a deeper, more emotional level than the original.  I just had to share that little moment. If that resonates with you on any level and you are in search of something to warm your heart and soul, watch this clip from the 2011 movie This Must Be The Place, with Sean Penn and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole check out this beautifully put together movie soundtrack plug. 

Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb born with a weak heart
(So I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's okay I know nothing's wrong nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight say goodnight

Home is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be where I'll be

Hi yo We drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head ah ooh

If someone asks, this where I'll be -- Home.