Lumalia’s debut memoir, Blooming Upside Down, is out now!

aurora borealis oregon northern lights oregon may 2024 view of green and purple and blue lights above a tree line in Oregon

How the Northern Lights in Oregon Create Ripples in Our Lives

Seeing the Northern lights, Aurora Borealis, outside of Portland Oregon in a forested area for the first time was nothing but awe inducing with crowds to match. 

The Mysteries and What the Northner Lights in Oregon Create: A Story

Minutes from our turnoff, I exclaimed to my husband, who was taking a power nap in the passenger seat, “Look, they are here!” The green hues started to drip across the sky like honey on the side of the jar, coating every piece of the darkness of the night in neon light. The tips of my hair rose up like tiny volcanos exploding with joy. Could this be happening?

Hello new friend, I’m Lumalia, writer, artist, beauty hunter. This is a little story from my experience seeing the Northern Lights in Oregon. Musings and story telling mixed with photographs I took from the iconic weekend of when the Aurora Borealis hit Oregon. 

Can the Aurora Borelis, Northern Lights in Oregon Change us?

What if this cannot be contained? We ache, we still ourselves, we race across cities, line up in traffic, and ignore our body’s pleads for sleep, hunger, and wholeness; what other things have us all lined up to be witness? Beauty. 

We are moved by beauty. We want to witness it, to become that stunning ourselves because too many of us have forgotten we are. 

The majesty of witnessing the Aurora Borealis for the first time in my life can leave one forever changed. We ache for these moments in humanity. We race for them in the arms of lovers, in heats of passion, in indulgences to devour them just like these solar flares spark us. We must be different after we witness the Northern Lights.

And we are the same, too, especially as we look at each other. But can you imagine if we all looked at each other, past the stories and the hurts, as we did to see these rare wonders of Earth? What if we witnessed each other the same?

I know it’s not that easy; trust me, as a survivor of abuse and chronic illnesses, I know.

Friday night, my husband came into our living room and told me how Aurora was hitting all across northern America. That Florida, Florida! Was seeing northern lights. We spent at least an hour researching and scouring social media to see when everyone saw these.

New Mexico, 10 pm, Missouri, 10 pm, New York, 11 pm, handfuls after handful of photos pilled into these social groups I’d been a part of, hoping one day I’d make it to Iceland or Alaska to witness the Northern Lights. 

But no flights have been booked, and it was on a list in my journal, under “desires” along with figuring out how to grow oranges in the Pacific Northwest. These grandiose things we want to do with our lives that I like to say I am someone who does them or graciously moves on from them. 

It seems that will happen to you when you’ve faced death a few times and recovered from being primarily bedridden for the latter half of your twenties as a young mother aching to play with her daughter. You understand life is too precious not to do the very things you desire. I wrote a book, even though I hated English; I love words and feelings and how we can transfer them through words, through movement, through these frequencies we don’t quite understand but name them such things as mirror neurons and emotional regulation. 

northern lights in Oregon May 2024 aurora borealis in Oregon by Lumalia Armstrong with deep magentas and the moon glowing slightly in the center

At 10:00 p.m., we decided to find the darkest night sky within an hour of where we live in Portland, Oregon. The Vista house already had ridiculous traffic, and the Gorge would be too busy while having north-facing views. So we grabbed some layers and our caffeine jolts and headed west to the coastal forests with dark skies. 

Minutes from our turnoff, I exclaimed to my husband, who was taking a power nap in the passenger seat, “Look, they are here!” The green hues started to drip across the sky like honey on the side of the jar, coating every piece of the darkness of the night in neon light. The tips of my hair rose up like tiny volcanos exploding with joy. Could this be happening?

Everything in me wanted to pull over, get out, let my mouth gape open, and lose all control of polite human behavior because what else do you do when you first see such wonder?

However, I remembered I was going 55 mph on a two-lane highway that required both myself and the driver flying in my direction going the opposite way to pay full attention. So, I focused and steered myself to reach our destination. 

Everyone else seemed to have the idea that this forest location was the place to be, yet we still found a place to park and a place to drift our eyes finally up. So much of our lives, our heads are down, but the Northern Lights in Oregon require you to expose your throat, let yourself be vulnerable, and look up. 

Look up.

For the next two hours, I sat before these beauties. I couldn’t believe I was here, and some part of me still doesn’t believe it. Is it already over? We lose these grand experiences so quickly and save the photographs we take or the stories we tell about them. We keep these memories in our pockets yet rarely return to them. Or do we each time we tell them. Are we that masterful at keeping something alive? Each time we give them a voice, wonder, gazing back at them, do we keep the memory alive in our cells and outside of us? Isn’t that incredible?

I love telling stories and being able to hold them again through photographs through words. I have a mural of photos from the past two years with my family coating my bedroom walls. We haven’t updated it from 2023 or 2024, but now we have these photos. This will probably be the catalyst for updating them. Isn’t it funny how sometimes it takes experiences happening to us for us to do something finally? It’s why I’m in love with creating experiences as an artist and somatic movement meditation teacher. 

I took two hundred photographs and long exposures, guessing from my time in portrait and lifestyle photography. I haven’t played with the night sky, let alone the Aurora Borealis, before. How does one dare to allow a camera to memorize such majesty? You try to name it good enough, adore what you experienced, and let it seep into your body as if it really wasn’t a dream. You didn’t imagine this. It did happen.

It’s interesting that we can rewrite our bodies’ responses to something by reimagining the stimulus. This method is used in my healing journey, yet can we do the same when photographing something? My photos pulled out the color more deeply than my naked eye saw. I’ll stick them together like a seamstress making a magnificent dress from parts.

Creation seems to be what we want to do with beauty: play with it.

And I think that is some of the best experiences in being human: witnessing beauty, remembering we are the same, and seeing what we can co-create, amplify, express, and tell a simple story just because something in us says,

“That is beauty.”

Thank you for reading my story and musing. If this resonated with you please share. 

You can find my book Blooming Upside Down: A Memoir of Healing from the Incurable or find me teaching somatic meditaiton classes in Portland.

All photos are available for print purchases. Click on the photo and it will take you to an online gallery to order and see more of my fine art photography. 


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About the Author

Lumalia standing near a coastline with her hair blowing in the wind

Hey, I’m Lumalia, the main voice behind Celebrate Again. I call myself a connection architect because I have a deep passion for guiding us all to fall back in love with life through states of beauty, but many of us are far from feeling at home in our own bodies, so we seek to find safety in others. 

Yikes, that’s scary, I know; I did that for three decades, too, until I returned home to myself.

I’m so excited to share with you all I’ve learned and this beautiful journey back home to what makes you absolutely stunning just because you are alive today.


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