13 November 2016
I went on my first backpacking trip in the mountains of western North Carolina the summer I was fifteen. What I had been suspecting my whole life was confirmed—I did not belong in the city, not the one I was born into, and not any city for that matter. The life I was meant to lead did not contain freeways or water coolers, but rocky trails and snowmelt water.
I’ve spent the twenty-five years since then wandering through the world in search of a life that felt as true to my soul as that first backpacking trip did. And in a culture in which we define ourselves by what we “do,” I believed I had to create a life defined by a single career that would financially support me, prove to the world that I was intelligent, and keep me covered in dirt and moss and river water more often than not. Oh, and I had to enjoy it. I never last at things I don’t enjoy.
I tried field ecology, wilderness education, and trail work, but I found satisfaction in none of them. And so I went to graduate school in Missoula, Montana and studied creative writing and environmental studies in hopes that a career path would present itself.
It didn’t. At all. But I DID learn how much I loved teaching creative writing on the edge of Clark Fork River. Ah, WRITER. TEACHER. There was my calling!
Identity cofirmed. PHEW.
After grad school I moved to Portland to be near my friends-like-family and I donned the identity of Writer. I published essays in literary journals here and there, started my own little writing studio, taught creative writing and environmetal studies for Prescott College, and earned most of my keep as a baker.
It was a beautiful life in my imagination–little ol’ Writer me with piggy tails riding my bike down Clinton Street under stars to make bread in the wee hours of the morning while others were still sleeping, and little ol’ me in cateye glasses holding workshops in my cozy living room by night.
It was wonderful in my imagination, but never quite right in my heart. I was tired, a lot. Stretched thin as a piece of gum that’s been chewed way too long. And I lived in a city. A beautiful city, for sure, but a city nonetheless. Something had to change, but I didn’t know whick puzzle piece to move.
And then, three years ago, the change came in the form of a painful gift—the breakup of a six-year relationship. Within 24-hours of the long-dreaded “this is it” conversation, I knew that I was going to get rid of most of my stuff (including my books!!!), quit my job, and move to the woods as ASAP as possible.
And so I did.
Now I live along a river surrounded by ancient cedars at the base of Mount Jefferson in the Central Cascasdes of Oregon. Now I live in a 300-square-foot cabin with a sleeping loft and skylight, but no running water, no phone, and no internet. Now I live in a cabin with the words “BLISS HOME” scribed long ago above the bedroom door.
Twenty-five years after that first backpacking trip, I am home.
I turned forty two weeks ago. And based on what I am seeing in the 40-something-year-olds around me, I believe the Mid-Life Crisis would more properly be named the Mid-Life Freedom Quest. And everyone would be excited about it, because it’s badass. We are finally wise enough and confident enough to shed the stories that have confined us for way too long. We are expanding. We are living the lives we want. Or at least we are moving toward them.
I am in the process of burning all of my old letters and journals—boxes and boxes, pounds and pounds of them—and I feel my internal load lightening in equal proportion. Along with all that wordy weight, I have shed the impulse to wear any career-based identity. I’ve never found one that fits for long, anyhow.
Instead, as I begin my 41st year, it is clear that Love and Beauty are the only bosses that have ever mattered. And ALL I do must be in service of them and the wild and free life I envisioned when I was fifteen years old. And so I bake and cook and chop and wash and serve and teach and draw and strum the banjo and sit and soak and fly and write and knit and sew and hike and climb and laugh and sing and read.
And so I, once and for all, present myself with the only identity that’s ever truly fit:
Becca Deysach, Ecstatic Wanderer.
Please explore this site to find some inspirations from my wanderings. Right now I’ve got 2017 calendars full of my drawings for sale. Cards are coming soon…
Who knows what’s next? What do YOU want?
In love and beauty, Becca
Taking it slowly is all that really makes sense to me anymore.
Taking love slowly.
Taking the morning slowly.
Folding my laundry slowly.
Sipping my third cup of dirty chai slowly.
Could be because my mind and mouth move so quickly, I have to balance it out somehow.
P.S. If you think bare feet on a river + a slow morning + writing + wood stove gathering + laughing + ancient forest love = a good time, join me for Story Seekers: A creative writing retreat at Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center from May 28th-29th, 2016!
A Writing Retreat at Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
Saturday and Sunday, May 28th-29th, 2016
Description: The poet Mary Oliver writes, “Let me keep my mind on what matters… which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.” In this creative writing retreat, we will immerse ourselves in the wild landscape of Opal Creek so that we, too, may become astonished.
We will explore the ancient forest with our senses wide open, allowing objects of intrigue to awaken the stories inside us.
With the help of prompts that invite interaction with the Opal Creek Wilderness, we will generate pieces of writing that are as wild and alive as the woods and rushing waters that inspired them. By the end of the weekend, we will each have a creatively rendered record of our discoveries and a variety of story seeds to take home. This retreat is a great opportunity for writers, artists, teachers, and anybody else who wants to break through blocks and access the wild and creative force howling inside us all.
$185, includes food and lodging
Register now at Opal Creek’s website.
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Freedom Within Form:
A Daylong Painting & Creative Writing Retreat in the Columbia River Gorge
Saturday, August 20, 2016
10am-4:30pm at The Artifactory at Atlan Center
Description: If you’ve ever stared at a blank canvas or empty notebook, yo know how paralyzing it can be to enter such boundless terrain. While there is a certain appeal to unlimited possibility, our creative selves thrive when they have just enough structure to run truly wild within.
In this day-long painting and creative writing retreat, we will set ourselves free by utilizing overlapping circular compositions as a portal into the painting process and our own creative genius. Guided writing exercises take us deeper into the territory we explore through our paintings.
No matter your starting point, we will engage in a process that is at once playful and focused, bound by form and exploding with potential. Using artist-grade acrylic paints, we will each complete three colorful wooden panels to take home as aesthetic reminders that with just the right amount of structure, you can indeed, hold infinity.
Instructors: Jazz-minh Moore received her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts and MFA from CSULB, both in Drawing and Painting. She has exhibited widely and been featured in various publications, including New York Magazine, the Huffington Post, Zingmagazine and the Village Voice. Moore has taught Color Theory and painting at university level, organized community painting events and also worked to bring the Arts to under-privileged children on both coasts, through Time In Children’s Arts Initiative and Artsbridge Scholar Program. She is currently transitioning back to the Northwest after living for seven years in New York City, where her work is represented by Claire Oliver Gallery.
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Becca Deysach, M.S., teaches creative writing and environmental studies for Prescott College and facilitates writing programs at Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center and Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. Her writing has appeared in Terrain, Mamalode, MsFit, The Whitefish Review, Nervy Girl, Punk Planet, and other literary journals and magazines. When she’s not teaching and writing in beautiful places, you can find her galavanting in the Central Cascades, cooking dinner for friends, or drawing in her wee cabin.
Price: $110 (includes a catered lunch)