Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Images of Experience and Education.

Good People,

Summits Beyond has traditionally been a way for me to express my thoughts and adventures as I attempt to make greater sense of my world and my  life as someone who is committed to intentionally living outside of my comfort zone searching for growth and development; both at a personal and community-based level.

I will also say that this blog has become, as of late, more of a space to give brief updates on the latest "status update"/whereabouts related to me and my surroundings. This format no longer works for me. My hope is that you, my friends and community who follow my whereabouts internetically will be able to stay abreast to my happenings via in-person contact, letter writing, or phone conversation.

Summits Beyond strives to reach its next evolution: A forum to present both personal stories of others, as well as my own in which people (and other creatures) are finding growth on the edge of their comfort zone and realizing those "summits" in our lives that define our direction, mission, purpose, and self-realization*.

"What does it all mean?"

Well, Summits Beyond will soon begin interviews, essays, presentations, and photo journalism highlighting life on the edge, life in progress, and lives of learning all in the name of better understanding the world around us, our community, and what it all means...

Stay tuned for a new look, and new twist, and an additional purpose as this web log transforms from personal digressions to a newer, community-based site designed specifically to build a sense of community while embracing the unknown.

We hope this entry finds you well, contemplative, and ready for the summits beyond...

In Adventure,

Kevin Shon
Editor-in chief

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hold the pose...

Good people!

  Hello, yet another entry at Summits Beyond. The title hopefully conjures images in the mind of meditation through movement, Sanskrit sweating, and enlightenment. Yoga. This really serves as a working metaphor representative of my transition back to Northern Virginia life after stepping up by stepping back from Outward Bound for a little bit. I was yearning family connection, weekends, friends and respite, so I hung my expedition hat on the rack for a bit and am working on settling in to a routine here in the ole' NOVA. I do find that although transitions are usually tough for me, this one (yes, is tough but) is equally filling with hope. Whewwww.....

   With some time and space to breathe, I have started two new ventures in employment, and am actively searching for what my "Grad School by 2013" campaign will look like. I plan to be in a master's program by 2013, somewhere at some point. Either Outdoor Education, or Counseling- but I DIGRESS.

   It is amazing to "hold the pose." I didn't think that coming back to Manassas would be challenging, but it completely is. I find my centered-ness off. I find my focus pulled by strange left-field doubts from time to time... "can I do this thing?" "Should I have left the woods?" "How do I build relationship with folks in society?" I am usually a pretty rock solid thinker. My time in valleys and mountains and glaciers and forests has made me pretty mentally strong, yet it is the concrete jungle that is getting me out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone is being pushed, not by the physical environment, but by the mentalscapes I now encounter in Manassas. Reconnecting my social network here, finding new employment, seeking new professional self-views? I am in a redefinition process. It is so new and so much and so full-on that this adventurer is enjoying sweating it out in process of redefining me and my world outside of the Outward Bound paradigm. Of course OB is like family to me. Of course I love the place. Of course I still instruct there. I am also enjoying the exploration of who I am by being in such a familiar place that is ironically so new and foreign to me. 

   I am literally re-mapping not only my professional self, but my personal self as well. Reconnecting with my parents, some childhood friends, my partner, and my profession here is a lot to take on. I am excited to be doing so. It is not easy. So here I am. Here I stand. Sweating out my heart, my soul, and my whole self while trying to maintain values, focus, goals, what I want, who I want, where I will go, and how my future is being constructed in this environment where there are no dinner circles, hugs to say hello, quotes, morning meeting/duty, etc.

Not a mixed message. I have left what I now know to return to where I have come from. I am encountering all sorts of new challenges I never knew existed. I am sure it is going to be okay, it's like that initial turbulence at take off... I am trying to balance what I know, what I see, what I feel and where I am. Here I am...   Holding the pose...

What inspires you to hold your "pose" ?

You can send reply to me through comments here, or through email, and I will post some of your responses here in the weeks to come...

Please pass on Summits Beyond to someone you know, especially if you think this Blog will inspire others to push their comfort to discover new growth.

In Adventure...

Kevin Shon

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Breath easy...

That familiar sigh of relief that is released when one is full of decision, thought, and action all at once. The plethora of abundant life that exudes from every fiber of your living, breathing body. From the very connectors- the sinew of your soul that holds it all together, like the glue of sanity at its breaking point comes screaming from the backdrop of your consciousness as you lay focus on the fact that "oh, I haven't come up for air. I have been distracted! What am I GOING TO DO - I CAN'T BREATHE AT ALL!!!!" Like an electric heat wave consuming your ability to remain present you must stop, analyze, commit and act - how will you reclaim your sanity after all the responsibilities, travel dates, stress and contracts settle as residual "dust" from a season full-on with running yourself ragged in the space time continuum. Spring, Summer Fall; Spring Summer, Fall - "Self... Where did my Winters go?" Why am I resigned to perpetual Alpine florescence? Why does it become hot with long nights so fast? I see snow, in the summer - only because I go to mountains..." "I leave when the leaves are red, and come back when they are pink, fire-blazed purple and the Amancay glows in the Patagonian Sun." "Self, when will I take a break?" 

Like a self-absorbed Magic Eight Ball attempting to both self-actualize (enough to make any Maslownian proud) while simultaneously immersed in deep reflection in a moment so inappropriate because the decision time is now (Don't miss the window of opportunity)... "One more week of work/travel to New York City? ...    Or chill in Northern Virginia...?..."

You see, I have been chasing my proverbial (and metaphysical) tail for the past two years in the name of serving others, professional development, fun & excitement, and in seeking for myself what the next steps are supposed to be. I sometimes feel startled and unfound when I pause and absorb the gravity of my situation. "How dramatic Kev," we might say, but really I think I walked to the limit of my wits end and back again, like our friend from The Gods Must Be Crazy attempting to hurl a deviant Coke bottle from the sky; a malevolent gift from the gods. I have discovered the threshold of my ability to travel and bounce and run and scream through time like a comet penetrating the stratosphere. As a result, one could say I have "crash landed" on the terrestrial surface of my own priorities. I have grounded my vessel right in to the very next steps of life - abruptly I have halted. This sounds from the outside a bit dramatic. A bit forced? And the metaphor is so apropos.

I have been traveling at nearly Mach speed from this place to that since February. On the move with students, friends, or family with no time to process what is happening to me, around me, for me and from me. I have been wrapped up in showing up to places so much that it only recently dawned on me it is time for respite. The great "S" word. SUSTAINABILITY.

"What in the heck are you freaking talking about you lunatic!?!"

I am telling you that since February, I have been non-stop only in one place for no more than three weeks, then traveling across the country or globe to my next destination, then the next, and so on -- my wings grew tired and I could not lite. I could not rest on my laurels. I am finally in a resting space.

Self-elected mind you, such that this is no cry for pity. I have done this to myself. Traveling so much for the past three years from South America to North and back again - something I plan to continue... AND I now have a vision of what it looks like to do so sustainably.

I am in North Carolina Course Directing a 21-day course for NCOBS. It feels like an arrival point. I am here for the summer. I have a place to hover and regroup within. I have community here. I have a place to rest.

It took me a while to arrive in this moment where the next 30-seconds aren't the ones that count. There is no bus to catch as it pulling out of the station. No crevasses to analyze. No red flags to mention in my pairs meeting. No airline check-ins too close to my take off flight. No one who will hear "Well, see ya next summer" At least not for a while. I am deposited.

I was just whisked down the river of my own life through a steep gradient, bouncing of rapid after rapid rolling with punches, timelines, deadlines and destinations non-stop for the past 6 months, and finally the madness can stop. For now.

I fix my gaze on the next giant steps I will take. The next sustainable avenue laid before me. The next direction that will give me trajectory in the management of my own life.

Finally, I can stop, take it in and be present because I am calm and stationary - not present because I am running through the moment, needing to listen to which gate change is required to hop on my next plane. There is no next plane for a while. Only family, loved ones, community, and my own health.

I am feeling so healthy. I am feeling present. I am here. Now. Ready.

If none of this makes sense, I will tell you quite literally again:

Since February, I have been traveling non-stop either for work, or some expedition I have committed to. This is great, and - feeling like there is no stop in sight for months to come puts you in a mindset- a rhythm- that I equate to that of a world-championship dodgeball game. You can't stop to breathe it in and be delightfully present. The only form of being "present" is preparing for the next hit. The next commitment. The next place you have to show up. It is a relentless cyclical preparing process. it gains a momentum all of its own - a personality if you will.

Like the silence after a windstorm, my mind only now can absorb my experience of the past 6 months. I can only now make sense of my travels, my shortcomings, my successes and my decisions. it feels good to lite in one spot for a bit. Like a tired eagle, I can dry my wings and, although it is not my ultimate nest, I have respite and shelter among a community of health.

I have been a weary traveler. I had fallen tired. It feels good to be recuperating and ready for my next solid bit of motion. Only this time - this motion is positioning me for the sustainable. New colors present themselves on the horizon of my near future. I can see clearly ahead that I am headed for new things: School, Love, Work, Climbing, Paddling, celebrating unions of friends- being with family. All of my values are singing in unison the chorus of my soul. I can reconnect with the things and people that sustain my spirit. I can connect with the ones I need/want in my life. i am done running ragged, head spinning to make that next flight. I can rest! It feels so good.

I can focus on one thing at a time. I can succeed. I can be a rock for others.

The calm after the whirlwind is good. We all need this sometimes- crazy moments to propel us to our next vision statement. What is your next vision statement?

I will be sustainably pursuing education, relationship, adventure, and the scaffolding of my future this new year for me (I am celebrating 31 years of life!!!). This is the year of solidarity. This is the forged ore that rises from the tempering flame of frenzy and travel from which I have just called "case closed." I sojourn forward with clear eyes, a full spirit, and a brilliant-shining soul. Hold my hand. Walk with me. Let us support one another. My community is a tribe of goodness. My goodness is a tribe of community.

Compassion prevails as the beacon of my own spirit shines through because I am on fire with the presence of my loved ones, my dear friends, and the adventures in the mountains and the ocean that taunt and beckon. I am alive. My inertia finally enables me to recharge. Here I walk forward with eyes fixed on what must be done. I do this with love and courage. I boldly say "I support you." and I prepare for the rest.

Goodnight moon.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Awakenings... Big Dreams lead to an even LARGER Reality:

Aloha! (Almost... but not quite that far) From the land of Tahoma! Seattle bustles before my eyes in all her foggiest glory this drizzly day in the Political Action Committee North West (haha? PAC NW- get it? it's election year people, c'mon a little White House Humor for ya- BADABING!). I am brought here to reunite with three amazing friends from West Virginia University and one from North Carolina Outward Bound: Team KevSamGretchAmoCorey will surmount the task of ascending Mount Rainier in a mere two days. A low pressure system from southern Alaska brings us overcast, rainy weather in the lower elevations and cold fester our plans... but as with many challenges and all things worth it in life, big-mountain climbing is a process, not a product. So, if we are granted weather and the systems come in to play for success to be defined as making it to the top of the highest Mountain/Volcano in the continental lower 48, so be it. Amen...

The quick update with me is that I have been "slumbering" for a bit now and recently awakened from my "sleep" and by sleep I mean a 72-day wilderness expedition known as the North Carolina Outward Bound School International Leadership Semester. For three months I instructed 7 students as they followed their own personal journey toward self-discovery and efficacy. How could I not be inspired by them after all that time?! I am so inspired....  and after 4 days off, I headed north to New York City to instruct three weeks there. I am currently taking a week off to climb Mount Rainier - my next Summit Beyond as I climb with some much loved friends... 

My commitment is to kick out/produce 1 Blog entry a week from now on, as I realize I have been pretty hit or miss with my correspondence for the past several months.

One other detail... I am reading The Fifth Discipline and it is BLOWING MY MIND! I am growing, searching, discovering and hopefully restructuring some systems in my life to really become a better me.

More on all this later.....In a week, in fact. Stay Tuned...

-- Kevin Michael Shon

Friday, January 6, 2012

Since I've Been Here...

Ugh. Falling alseep. Will write tomorrow...