Wise Women Wednesday: Rebecca Hamilton

Rebecca Hamilton

It's Wise Women Wednesday, each week I interview a woman that I believe is inspiring, living abundantly and following her passions.  These are all women who live a life of abundance and bring creativity into the world.  

I'm geeked to share this wise women with you since I've known her since high school.  She's brilliant, funny, beautiful, and a badass cyclist (which she barely mentions in this interview, but she is).  We've known each other since the awkward stages of puberty, been in many plays and musicals together, dated and kissed the same guy, and spent many hours in estrogen circles together pouring our hearts out long into the night.  After high school we went our separate ways.  She to the West Coast me to the East Coast, thanks to the beauty of Facebook and good old fashion letter writing I've watched from afar as our interests have intersected.  I've longed for her to move to this coast and hang out with me, but I think I'll have to settle for visiting.  

Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. I’m a Toledo native who was born to head West, wander around in the wide world, and poke at things with sticks. Now living in Portland, Oregon, I follow my passion for the natural sciences, cycling, dancing, and exploring around the Pacific Northwest.

Q. What is your work?
A. I absolutely love my work! As a Regional Planner for the Portland metropolitan area, my job is to manage the Urban Growth Boundary. This UGB keeps the area within the boundary compact and bikeable while preserving the farmlands and forests on the outside of the line. It’s an honor to be entrusted with my community’s quality of life and preservation of the most beautiful wild lands I’ve ever known and I feel very grateful to have a job that is so personally meaningful to me.

Rebecca Hamilton with salamander

Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. I’m co-teaching a class at Portland State University. The purpose of the class is to teach neighborhood activists how they can work with the local government to make change in their city. How can you get a bike lane installed on your street? Can you create a brand new pocket park in your neighborhood or turn a parking lot into a garden? Yes, you can. And now I get to help people learn how to do that.

Getting to teach this class is an opportunity to convince people of their own power to effect change in this city - and hopefully, to encourage them to go out and use it.

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. I volunteered for a public speaking gig in front of a very large group of people at a national conference. Public speaking is my terror - shaking hands, heart racing, the works. But it was a way to get a big idea out in front of a lot of people who’d be in a position to do something about it, so...

Luckily my presentation was towards the end of the evening, after the audience had had a few drinks.

Rebecca Hamilton as David Bowe

Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not why not what's stopping you?  
I would love to be writing more. I used to write quite a bit but now I’m so out of practice. Now it’s very hard for me and it stresses me out. Mostly I’m worried that I would try my best and find out that I’ve become mediocre at something that I think I could have been quite good at if  I had just kept up with it over the years. I’m afraid to discover that I’ve lost something of value because I didn’t give it the work it deserved.

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. I’d tell myself: Girl, you have depression. It is making your life a million times harder than it needs to be. It’s not your fault and it is something that you can change. Go see a doctor and a counselor. It’s OK to be kind to yourself.

I didn’t understand what depression was until I was 31. When I finally started to get treated for it, the difference in my life was stunning. It was heartbreaking to realize how much unnecessary unhappiness I had carried around for decades, but I was so relieved to be free that I didn’t care.

Rebecca Hamilton rocking Cyclocross

Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. Whatever you are, be a good one.

We each play a lot of roles in life - some we welcome, others we endure. But you can’t just save your best effort for that day when you’re finally exactly where you want to be. Every day matters.

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it? 
A. Deadlines.

Rebecca Hamilton Dancing

Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. What makes “nerdy” things nerdy? Who isn’t interested in how we’re going to get to Mars someday, or how the Cascade Mountains got there, or why baking soda makes your cookies come out differently than if you use baking powder? What would be the “cool” things to be thinking about instead? I’ve always been curious but no one will ever let me in on the big secret.

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?  
I like eagle (garudasana) to balancing stick (tulandandasana) - binding everything tight together and then stretching full out to the world while trying to keep it all in balance.

QHow do you live a life of abundance?
A. I allow myself to get swept away with inspiration when it comes. I give myself permission to get all riled up about an idea and let my mind indulge in all of the “what ifs”.

It’s the world’s job to give me obstacles and to make me work for anything that I want. My job is to be my own best advantage. I tell myself that anything is possible, that I can do anything, and go out to meet the world with that in my heart.

Rebecca Hamilton hiking