Tiahna recommended Sabrina to me. After a little back and forth, we met at her home. Sabrina certainly contributed to the sense of community I often feel when I'm invited, essentially as a stranger, into one's home. She made us some tea and we sat in her living room with her dog, Dexter, and chatted pretty casually (notwithstanding the audio recorder). I appreciated the honesty and vulnerability that Sabrina brought to our first conversation. It's obvious she lives the life she encourages her clients to live.
Who are you?
Who am I? (Laughs) Do people often have a hard time answering this question? Can we cheat? Tell me how people begin. Shit! (Laughs) I am a 36ish cisgender, heterosexual female. I am a proud daughter and sister. I have three siblings. I am a dog mamma. I am an auntie. For a living, I am a wilderness therapist and also an adjunct instructor. I have lived in Bend about four years, moved from Portland for a job and also an internship at OSU-Cascades Research Center for a PhD that I finished. I am the daughter of a Syrian immigrant, which has become more relevant for some people. It's been relevant for me my whole life, but for others it's become more relevant. I'm someone that really loves the outdoors and loves holistic health. I think that to live well there needs to be attention to physical health, mental health, spiritual health, connection to nature, that kind of stuff. I'm a pretty active person, which is one of the reasons I live in Bend. I love all the outdoor adventures Bend has to offer. So that's a part of who I am - someone that loves to get out there and play. Maybe I'm also an artist? I paint and I dance and I sing and create. That's what I got so far. That's a hard question.
What brought you to Bend?
I came from Portland. I lived in Portland about seven years. Before that, Seattle. What brought me to Bend was two opportunities. One was to work for the company I currently work for, Evoke, which is a wilderness therapy program. Right around the same time, another opportunity to do my internship at OSU that I needed to do for my PhD. I also really wanted to get out of the grey Portland area. I love Portland in so many ways, but the weather definitely affected me. And I just couldn't do it anymore. I went to all these great lengths to sort of overcome the gloom that I felt (laughs). I got this sunlamp and put it in my bathroom and then I got another sunlamp and I put it next to my desk. Every chance I had, I was next to these sunlamps that were supposed to help with seasonal affect problems. I was also on Saint John's Wort and I was exercising more. And then finally I decided that perhaps the geographical location wasn't the best fit for me and my spirit or whatever. I had been looking at Bend and when the two different opportunities came up, I thought, This is a sign. So, that's what brought me here.
What do you like about Bend?
I like that there's over 300 days of sunshine. I like the high desert a lot. I grew up in a similar climate in eastern Washington State. And then my heritage, I think where my dad's lineage comes from in particular, is very desert like. I think I feel at home in a desert setting. But I also love that, although Bend is high desert, within 30 miles in any direction, you can find something beyond the desert. Like the Ochocos National Forest, well maybe not 30 miles. The Cascade Lakes - so I love the access to water because I like to do water activities, water sports - I love swimming and stand up paddle boarding and kayaking and fishing. The climate, the sun, the water. Really the outdoor heaven of it. I love that there's a time of year where you can do a snow adventure, you can do a water adventure, and you can bike. You know the Pole, Pedal, Paddle event that they have. There's a time of year where you can do all three and I love that. I think it's really fun. I also think Bend draws similar people, people that love the outdoors and find value in interacting with it and disconnecting from the front country technology.
How do you contribute to the community?
Being active and getting out there, I do meet people through the outdoor activities that I do. I'm pretty personable. In small ways, I probably contribute to the community just by being someone that is personable with others. I feel strongly about people feeling empowered to use their voices. I think Bend is a bit of a bubble, but at the same time, it's important to continue to reach out to people to see where we agree and disagree. I wish there were more diversity in terms of opinions and even lifestyle. There's just like one kind of person here and that can be limiting. Not one kind, but it's just not as diverse. The different marches that go on, the different community events - I tend to attend the ones that I think are important. It's a really good question - how to contribute to your community. I'm friends with my neighbors! (Laughs) I think that counts. I'm definitely mindful of local companies, local businesses. For instance, my stand up paddle board is made by a local company. Our company does contribute to the community in that we hire people that come and live in Bend that are phenomenal human beings. We definitely draw quality humans that hold the values that Bend represents, which are to get outside as much as possible and not take life too seriously and be kind to each other. Our clients come from all over and they get to have their transformation - or their journey to be well happens in the great outdoors of Bend and there's something to be said for that. It's magical that they get to tap into this location to do their work. They basically live outdoors for eight to ten weeks in our program.
Do you have a favorite activity?
Paddle boarding Cascade Lakes and floating the Deschutes are some of my favorites. Some of the hikes are incredible here. I would say the Lakes are my favorite. Hosmer Lake is my favorite. I get to do what I love for a living. I'm a wilderness therapist, so I have an adolescent girls group. I work with adolescent girls that are struggling. Usually they are struggling to the point where their parents have tried everything and they're still not doing well. Sometimes substance abuse problems, sexual promiscuity, unhealthy relationships with sex as a teenage girl, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, attempts sometimes even. The girls that I work with are typically really artistic, so I feel really lucky. They are the right-brained people. In addition to struggling, they also come in with these incredible artistic talents ranging from being incredible singers to drawing, dancing, poets, writers, those kind of girls. I feel really lucky that I get to get paid to help them tease out who they are and what the struggle is.
What do you wish for the future?
I really hope that the city planners are going to prepare for the population growth before it grows. More of a preventative model. We live in a culture where we are crisis management, crisis intervention focused. We wait for it to get bad and then we do something about it. So I would like to see Bend not wait for it to get bad and instead, expands the roads and maybe, I don't know, build some more bridges or I don't know what the solution is, but prepare for the growth. Housing is a huge problem right now. Affordable housing, affordable rental housing is a big problem. I want to make sure that the city planners are working with developers to try to address that before it becomes worse than it is. That's what I want for Bend's future. I would love for the East Side to be developed as much as the West Side. The cute development, maybe quaint is a better word, restaurants and bars and businesses are all on the West Side. The East Side has some potential. I'd like to see that happen. More community events, too. More diversity would be nice. In all ways.
I have found that it's really hard to meet a partner in life. I moved here without knowing anyone four years ago and I have been without a partner for a long time. I would really like to find a partner in crime. I would love to have children, as well. I don't know if that's going to happen in Bend, to be totally honest. I don't know if it will. There's hope and then there's also this sadness and longing. I think people really take it for granted when they're partnered up. Especially in my line of work, I hold a lot of space for a lot of people. I'm really good at it. I think that at times it's not obvious that there's this loneliness to what I do, as well. Sometimes I feel a little bit like I'm on an island, if that makes sense. I have found in my own research, having lived here for four years, there are far more phenomenal single women living here than not. I think that men should just start moving to Bend. Particularly mid to late 30s, I think there's a big hole here. Like 36ish! Yes! (Laughs) That would make Bend better.
Anything else you want to put on the record?
I will say I chose to wear these particular pants for you coming over and asking me all these questions because a good friend of mine recently got them for me and they're called Phoenix Rising. I was like, What meta communication do I want to give in this? I really value, and I think I have found that in other people here in Bend, this idea of not pretending that life is perfect, but instead honoring your story and your history and your process and rising, like a phoenix from the ashes, from whatever struggles you have in a way that leaves you more empowered and colorful, like the colors of the pants (giggles). You are more beautiful if you can come out of the things that try to hold you down. I think that's reflected in the work I do - that belief - and who I am as a person. We'll add that to the mix - my pant choice. (Laughs)