by Lisl Dennis
Despite New Mexico fires largely under control, the ninety-plus-degree temperatures and smokey skies have nevertheless suppressed my local biking ambitions. To get out from under, my husband Landt Dennis and I loaded both road and mountain wheels and headed north to Salida, Colorado. Chafee County along the Arkansas River is standing up reasonably well to ongoing Southwestern drought with its verdant farmlands and rural roads encircled by the Rocky Mountains Sawatch and the Fourteeners Collegiate ranges.
Salida, CO is a delightful All American surprise. A wholesome embodied small town culture where almost everyone is into the outdoors: rivers rafting, climbing, horseback riding, and all terrain biking. Hanging out at the packed Boathouse restaurant overlooking the Arkansas River’s in-town competition rapids, kids were flipping mini-kayakes and “playing the hole.” Stick tossing into the roiling waters challenged even the biggest dogs. And little girls wheeled bikes around town gleefully – with confidence into the crepuscule.
While Landt hiked up the mountain trail, I peeled down a rough forest service road from the Mt. Shavano trailhead. The wraparound views of a cirque of snow dotted peaks took my breath away. They gave rise to that little girl thrill of independence, boundlessness, freedom and safety alone in the wilderness.
For me, aloneness in the outdoors – hiking, trekking, skiing, biking – gives rise to this heady embodiment blend, and is a source of joy.
Awhile ago, I took off solo on a wilderness trek in Bhutan. When friend Ali Macgraw asked me why I was doing such a lonely thing, I replied: I’ve lost my sense of joy. A month of solo trekking in an exotic culture; through the living middle hills and singing valleys; and surrounded by stunning peaks will be a deeply needed joy retrieval journey.
And it was!
My camera dropped to the bottom of my daypack. Seldom digging it out, I suspended my obsession with photography. I opened more directly to the spectacular natural world and to a diversity of sensations. Joyfulness and intimate observations gifted me along the trail.
In my STORYSHARDS: Archaeology for Your Life womens’ retreat we share experiences and the life lessons learned.
By deliberately taking ourselves out of our known comfortable contexts, we can shift our perspectives and actions, and change our lives and intentions in unexpected ways. For many women, wellness and embodiment practice is being given top priority in their lives.
Not to have the best body on view, I think the imperative is to remain fit-and-fiddle in order to be of service in today’s terra incognita world – with greater resiliency, robustness and joy. Intentional immersions in terra incognita allow for a different and expanded sense of ourselves. It amazes me, when given a conducive safe context such as STORYSHARDS, how much women have to say on these subjects in mutuality of shared experience.
STORYSHARDS creates a diversity of visual contexts for story sharing. Like an archaeological dig, the terra incognita of its creative structure opens to getting in touch with those realms we seldom visit – or have lost touch with.
My joyful new summer website – loaded with images, music and video – shares some of the contexts and atmospheres that create safe contexts for opening to engaged creativity and the progressive narratives of our embodied lives.
Whatever embodiment practice brings us to joy is to be nurtured. So, I’m off Sunday in ninety-five-degrees on my Specialized Roubaix to bike the lovely – if not a little dry – Villanueva Valley. Along the Pecos River, through Old New Mexico hamlets, I’ll ride through emerging vineyards and corn and barley fields. The valley is a winding milagro bean-field world full of local encounters; eager bike-loving dogs at my wheels; church bells resounding; and rewarding sangria and regional Hispanic family-cooked food at funky La Rosa’s restaurant.
A Sunday Joy Ride!
Lisl Dennis‘ career as a worldwide travel and decorative arts photographer, travel writer, television host and international tour leader has garnered a rich spectrum of images, impressions and experiences from a diversity of cultures.