After camping in Cuyamaca, my friend and I decided to take an impromptu drive to Mount Laguna. I had never been and was curious. Plus, I am always down for an adventure. I had no idea what the drive would be like and I must admit, if I had known, there is a very high probability that I would not have gone. I have driven up mountains before. But I had never experienced driving up a mountain where the road is a few feet from the edge and there are no barriers or rocks to prevent one from falling. I looked in the rear view mirror at my friend who was driving behind me. “What are they going to do if I accidentally fall off the edge?” I was freaking out, to say the least. 😳

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love being in the mountains. I love looking out and feeling like I am a part of this great big world. I love the instant peace that accompanies it. But I HATE driving up mountains. The first time I went to Big Bear, I refused to drive the mountain part. My friend did the driving. I was actually thinking about this person before I reached this point in my drive to Mount Laguna. Thinking about our trip to Big Bear. Thinking. Grieving. The sadness hit me like a wave right before I realized Mount Laguna was where my story would potentially end. Okay. Okay. ‘maybe‘ I am being a bit dramatic. 🙄

The thing is, even though I was afraid, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t go back. I had no choice but to ride it out and keep moving forward. I kept breathing. I reminded myself that my car does not have an auto pilot so as long as I stay focused, I should be okay. And I was. I made it to Mount Laguna and it was beautiful! Oh my god! The trees! Orange. Yellow. Yes! I moved to San Diego from Tennessee in 2015 and one of the things I miss the most are the colors of the trees in the fall. (And my friends, of course.) My friend was looking at me with a weird expression and I explained to them how amazing it was to see trees with colors other than green. I was grateful. I am grateful. I have a hidden child-like wonder about me and I can sometimes find joy in the simplest things.

Wherever we are on our journey, there will always be moments of fear. There will be times we have to take risks and we can’t always know what will happen. As a matter of fact, we can’t ever really know what the future holds. But there is one constant that will always remain. Beauty. There is always beauty, should we choose to see it. I don’t know if I would have gone to Mount Laguna if I knew about that drive. I do know that if I had not gone, I would never have gotten to take in the beauty of the trees. It was worth it. Now had the trees been just a regular green… I would have given Mount Laguna the side eye. 😕Just kidding.

Take risks, my friends. Our journeys will take us to places that bring up fear. grief. sadness. joy. wonder. Beauty

#love and be loved


6,000 Nights

“Everyone has a chapter they don’t want to read out loud.” – unknown

How does a single moment become six thousand nights?

One night. Two men. 17 years ago. That’s how.

I heard footsteps and low voices walking down the hall. I didn’t have enough time to run. Fight. Flight. FREEZE. Staying as still as I possibly could, I kept my eyes closed and pretended to be asleep.

And then I did something that I had never seen anyone do, except on television shows. I became powerful and strong. I became free! I soared above the ground, defying gravity. With every leap I took, I could feel myself being supported by the wind and air around me. It carried me. It kept me from falling. It kept me safe.

And that is the memory I chose to hold on to. I couldn’t embrace the reality of what had happened. I was sixteen. I was home alone. I couldn’t run. I didn’t scream. I didn’t fight. I was powerless. I did what I had known to do since I was five. I soared. I set my mind free from my body that was being raped by two men whose identity I will never know.

I didn’t call the police. I didn’t call my mom. I told no one. I let my mind forget. I slept under the bed or hid in the closet whenever I was home alone after that. I wasn’t just raped that night. My PTSD caused me to relive it. I had insomnia. I couldn’t sleep in the dark. I could hear the footsteps. I could hear their voices. I didn’t scream that night I was raped but the screams came. Night after night. I screamed. Night after night. I cried. Alone. I was afraid. And I still am. Over 6,000 nights later, the fear has not completely dissipated.

No one wants to talk about sexual assault. The scars that stay. The time it takes to heal. One moment that turns into eternity. It is more than just a memory. More than a moment. It lingers.

I have carried shame that was never mine to carry. I was sixteen. I was innocent. I did nothing wrong. I have compassion for my sixteen year old self that carried the shame of silence. The shame of freezing. The shame of not fighting. I realize now that I DID fight. I fought the only way I knew how. I fought to survive.

And while I understand cognitively that I did not actually defy gravity, there are occasional moments when that memory feels real. Moments when I need it to be. Moments when I feel unsafe and afraid and vulnerable to the world around me. Moments when I feel powerless.

But I am NOT powerless.

I make the choice to heal. To take back my voice. To take back my power.

I make the choice to read aloud this chapter of my story.


#love and be loved friends.

You are not alone. There is hope. There is healing. There is love. austin-schmid-37423