Self Love

I’m facilitating a writing group called “Manifesting your Dreams.” I create the prompts as well as respond to them. Here is my response to the second prompt.

Write for at least 5 minutes about this question:
What do you love about yourself? In other words, what are your talents and strengths?

I decided to do it in list format, because I’m a virgo and I love lists.

Name: Amberly Young
Age: 23
Favorite Colors: Yellow, White, Red, and Turquoise
Occupation: World Traveler, Writer, Musician, Artist, Teacher, Philanthropist… but I don’t want to shut any doors, so my occupation is Student and Teacher of Life! Anything and everything.
Interests: Freedom, Generosity, Ultimate Frisbee, Swing Dancing, Healthy Eating, Spirituality, Goal Setting, List Making, Reading, Writing, Drawing, Painting, Talking to Strangers, Yoga and Meditation, Practicing Infinite Love! Everything.
Right now: Wearing fuzzy maroon bathrobe, in the living room of my parents house where I grew up in. Maple the lovable yellow lab maple is snoring.

My Talents and Strengths:

1. Courage. To travel, talk to strangers, to be free, to have no inhibitions. To teach and to be taught. I regained my innate child-like total freedom feeling recently, at the raw food yoga detox center I lived at for 2 months the Philippines. I am turning back into a child! YES! This comes in handy, and is connected to everything.

2. Creativity. In everything I do: Art Cooking Music Daily Life, it just exudes out of me. I can’t help it. I play piano, guitar, flute, drums a little, and I sing A LOT. I know that I am capable of any creative project I set my mind to. Same with sports or anything expressive. Recently I’ve been trying to apply this attitude to everything, such as math and science, which are subjects which intimidated me in the past. Now I know I can do anything.

3. Enthusiasm!!! I throw myself into things one hundred percent without holding back. In the Philippines I had a spiritual awakening because I was SO OPEN and eager to learn everything. Sometimes my friends and family warn me to be more cautious. While I value their input, I think this quality has taken me very, very far in life so far.

Lots of people warned me not to do a solo motorbike trip in Taiwan, and that was such a life changing experience. For 5 days I zoomed down the coastal highway,  finding my way in a country where there are no signs in English – without a smartphone! I had written down names and phone number of places to stay, and miraculously I made it!

There’s a difference between careful and paranoid, and I think I’ve proven I can take care of myself. I do want to be cautious, maybe, but not paranoid! Read my article about traveling alone as a woman for more info about this.

4. Organization. I am all about making lists (as you can tell) and manifesting my dreams via writing, art, music, and with a calendar. I’m all about TAKING ACTION!! I have a pen and paper wherever I go, and I always carry business cards – I had 1000 made in the Philippines for $25! I am excellent at networking and keeping track of the people I’ve met abroad.

5. Love. I love everyone. I love everything. In this moment my love for the world is so powerful it hurts, sometimes its too much. It’s hard for me to hear about all the wars and violence in the world, so I don’t watch the news much. I’m inspired by more positive stories, as my friends volunteering in the Philippines doing permaculture in a tiny village, watch the video here. Like them, I want to spread joy and light to the world! The next step to this is unconditional love for myself.

One final question: How do I do all of this and be empty and nothingness at the same time? I am everything but I am nothing. Or am I? I feel all powerful, with moments of nothingness sprinkled in between. Any advice? Comments? Critique?

Feel free to do this writing prompt on your own, and if you feel inspired you can email it to me! I’ll respond.

Thanks for reading.

Barefoot Freedom

Climbing Redwood Trees in Santa Cruz, California

by Amberly Young

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The sun has just set and a soft blue glow radiates from the heart of the forest. My feet are bare and I feel the moist earth beneath my soles.

These trees are hundreds of years old, I think to myself as I walk, gazing up into the canopy.

The only noise is the gentle breeze shifting through the branches and the quiet crackle of my footsteps on the dry pine needles.

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The redwood forest of Santa Cruz, California surrounds me, and I lose myself in the beauty of the swaying saplings and deep red trunks. I feel an ancient wisdom reverberating around me. I follow the path by the meadow, crossing the field I recognize from full moon drum circles, over the bridge by a trickling creek, winding through trees as wide as trucks and as tall as skyscrapers.

I pass the Wishing Tree, a small oak, where people write their prayers and dreams on slips of paper and tie them to branches in the hopes of being heard.

Finally I reach my destination. In the center of a small clearing she stands, a 150-foot tall douglas fir. We call her Tree 9.  A swing twirls lazily from the lowest branch, along with a rope ladder inviting you to ascent the magnificent giant.

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No one else is with me today, although I often take my friends here to show them one of my favourite places on our university campus. We go to school in the middle of a magical redwood forest – the University of California at Santa Cruz. I selected this wonderland as my top choice, turning down the competitive and prestigious UC Los Angeles. I didn’t want to live in a city, surrounded by buildings and traffic.

I’m proud of my decision, I think as I climb up the lower branches. Though I’m alone, I feel safe, I know this route, I’ve done this before. I lose myself in the rhythm, wrapping my arms around branches as big as my waist, always maintaining 3 points of contact, stepping close to the tree where the branches are strongest.

Already I feel a sense of calm, and find myself forgetting to worry. My typical cycle of thoughts shut down as I continue up the tree. She beckons me up, up, up. I feel my heart race as I ascend, my brain warning me that I wouldn’t survive a fall from this height. But I trust my body, and remember to breathe, and I trust this beautiful tree that has stood here, in this spot, since before I was born, since before my great grandmother’s grandmother was born.

Near the top I feel her swaying. She is supportive but not stiff. She weaves with the wind. Her limbs are thinner now, some no thicker than my wrist.

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At the very top, there is sort of a seat, a plateau, a place to rest. Now I can relax.

Stretched before me are hundreds of other trees, each a majestic being in itself. Together they are an undulating forest of deep green, clustered in threes, cascading far into the distance. I can just make out the ocean, a dark blue under the softening sky.

Behind the trees, nestled in the forest, there are the classrooms and dormitories and laboratories and libraries and lecture halls of my university, but I can’t see them. Here I can forget everything and just sit in my gratitude for this world I was born into. Here I can meditate and appreciate my being, my freedom to climb, to explore. Here I can relax and ease into myself, part of the forest, silent, smiling, thankful.

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About the Author : Nature lover Amberly Young is a traveling writer, photographer, and musician.  After she graduated from university in Santa Cruz, California, she hopped on a plane to New Zealand, stayed there for a year volunteering on farms, and then spent 4 months travelling in Southeast Asia. She is currently living in Melbourne, Australia, finishing up her one-year working holiday visa, before traveling more in Asia.

All text and photos by Amberly Young. This story was also published on WeSaidGoTravel, find it here.