From Smokey to Cedar

This week, I decided to change the name and feel of my blog.

I started it as “Smokey Drives a Cadillac” two years ago while I was working with the US Forest Service.

Steph USFS

Working on the Hiawatha National Forest

I wore the Smokey Bear mascot uniform that summer, and I drove my mom’s 1995 Fleetwood Brougham Cadillac.  The two had an element of nostalgia and felt like a great name for a place to experience chapters in life.


That’s me!


Me as Smokey in the 4th of July parade

My goal with Smokey was to travel around looking for internships, apprenticeships, and learning opportunities blended with cultural experiences.  I wanted to work with sheep in Ireland, harvest sea salt in Sicily, stay with hippie communes across the US.  Being “Smokey” was one of my chapters, and it was going to lead to more great life experiences.

When my gig was up with the USFS in Michigan, life happened.

Student loans came due, and bills needed to be paid.  I went to visit a friend in Maryland for a few days before heading back to Utah.  While waiting for my luggage at baggage claim , my phone rang.  Serendipity.  An HR recruiter was on the line about a job where I’d be able to use my degree in Spanish on a daily basis.  Everything fell into place, and a few days after I arrived in Utah, I interviewed and secured the job.  I’m currently still working there.  As routine set in and the cubicle walls grew higher, Smokey never had the chance to blossom.

Way, way back when the internet was still fresh, LiveJournal was the cool thing.  It was a place where you wrote like you would in your own diary, and you would meet people who genuinely wanted to follow your life and were very interactive in commenting and conversing regularly.  There were common-interest communities.  I met many of my first Utah friends there.  You could join anything from communities about t-shirt surgery, to cosplay, to religious discussions, photography around the world, and more.  I wrote in my LiveJournal multiple times a day.  The word “blog” didn’t exist.

I’ve had a hard time writing in Smokey.  As I live a pretty normal  8am-5pm life, I wasn’t fulfilling all I had hoped Smokey would be.  Finding desire to write was like trying to function when your room is a complete pigstye – it just wasn’t working.

I’ve been searching for a layout and name that really represents me and how I feel about myself.  I wanted to keep the idea of sharing my travel stories, food, and nostalgia – people are always asking me travel tips and following my trips on social media, and I’m always asked to share recipes.  But I wanted to be able to add more and feel free to write whatever I please, without feeling inhibited by labels and categorizing every post.  I wanted to feel at home so I could open up and be vulnerable.  Home is a safe place.

That’s exactly what 1241 Cedar is – it’s home.

in winter

1241 Cedar in winter

I grew up in the same home where my dad spent much of his childhood, and where my parents still reside.  1241 Cedar Street.  While the address changed when our little community got a 911 system, I am a product of 1241 Cedar.  It’s where I was raised, had many experiences that shaped me, and where I still return to every year to visit my home.  Whatever life threw at me, I could always run home to Cedar Street.  I could still navigate the potholed streets of my neighboorhood with my eyes shut while riding a bike with no hands.  I knew every tree, every home, every resident, every species of tree, insect, and animal.  It’s the place where I’ve always felt safe, loved, and amidst the chaos of everything around me, where I never had to learn to be myself because it just came naturally.

Over the years, I’ve fallen prey to insecurity.  I’ve developed a lot of tension and anxiety whenever I try to express myself, worrying that it won’t be what people want.  But isn’t expression for ourselves?  And isn’t that what I learned in my childhood home?  1241 Cedar is a place to freely write, share, and express without worry.

Cedar Street is appropriately named because of the abundance of cedar trees surrounding the pond that lay nearly in my backyard.

cox's pond

Cox’s Pond

The pond was my reverie as a child, and a place where I often played.  I loved smelling the sweet strawberry-honey-pine smell of the cedar leaves as I walked down the street and played in the woods.  Once, I went to a local Ojibwe healer who prescribed me to boil the cedar leaves in water and add honey, as it would help ground me and assist me as I became a woman.  Cedar is known for its healing and protection.  The wood of cedar trees is known to not rot, thus why many memory chests are made of sweet-smelling cedar.  To me, cedar naturally fits as something nostalgic: it hold many of my memories, and it holds the memories of others.

cedar leaves

Cedar leaves near my home.

As soon as I chose 1241 Cedar as the new name and look of my space online, I felt a wonderful, peaceful energy from it.

It is my hope that, over time, you grow to love 1241 Cedar as much as I do, and that you will feel it to be a home for you, too.


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