My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

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I love Thanksgiving.

I really do.

Of course there’s the delicious food (hellllllo stretchy pants!), the football and the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But what I love most about this holiday is spending time with family and friends, and taking a moment (or five) to reflect and celebrate what it is that we’re truly thankful for, the things that give us joy and make our hearts smile.

It’s a holiday that while steeped in tradition, can take on many forms.

For example, some of us are Tofurkey enthusiasts, while others are devotees of the deep-fried turducken. Some of us are Turkey Trot running champs and other live for the most epic of food coma naps (followed by a little pig skin on the big screen). Thanksgiving is one of the few traditional holidays that really celebrates our diversity as a cultural melting pot, which basically means you can take the holiday and run with it however you like. Harry Potter-themed Friendsgiving? Go for it! Around the World in 80 Turkey Dishes Potluck? Sure, why not?!

However we choose to spend it, our Thanksgiving celebrations are about the same thing–showing gratitude for what we have.

Well, that and pie.

I wanted to take some time today to shed some light on just some of the things in my life that make my heart smile.

Here are just some of my Thanksgivings (and I encourage you to share yours in the comments below!):

1. My awesome and crazy family who love me–and put up with me—no matter what. I truly drew the lucky card when I got them, and am so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing group of people in my life. Cue the awwwwww.

2. My awesome and even crazier friends who love me–and put up with me no matter what. Y’all know who you are and I owe each and every one of you the biggest of bear hugs. Cue the double awwwww–good golly I’m pretty damn adorable on Thanksgiving.

3. Harry Potter. Because duh.

4. The Milwaukee Brewers. Because double duh.

5. My faith, my courage, my strength and my willingness to never, ever, never ever give up.

6. Good hair days.

7. Bad hair days (because it really makes you appreciate the aforementioned good hair days.)

8. The kindness of strangers.

9. Ben & Jerry’s.

10. Ben & Jerry’s.

11. Ben & Jerry’s.

12. Sweats (especially after all of the aforementioned Ben & Jerry’s.)

13. Soul-hugging, mind-tingling, heart-pumping, belt-it-out-in-the-shower-or-in-the-car music.

14. The experiences, the challenges and the moments in my life that have helped shape me, making me who I am.

15. The experiences, the challenges and the moments in my life that have yet to happen that will help to shape me, making me who I will be.

16. Hugs (the candy and the verb).

17. Freshly baked cookies, a hot shower, vanilla scented candles and oversized hoodies.

18. The ability to say no, but the courage to say yes.

19. PUPPIES!

20. And Billy Murray.

Have a fantabulous Thanksgiving, frannnnds!🙂

 

Brave

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The Oxford dictionary primarily defines ‘brave’ as the following: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. I would also add to this definition: attempting to wear white at an Italian restaurant, grocery shopping on an empty stomach and listening to Hanson in public (YOU CAN’T NOT DANCE AND EPICALLY KAROKE WHEN LISTENING TO HANSON, Y’ALL!!! It’s literally physically impossible.)

But back to my good friend Oxford. According to its definition, me thinks that there are two primary parts, two very crucial ingredients to being brave – the ability to endure, and courage. I might add that when one is brave, two of these qualities have to co-exist, and they are both of equal importance.

In order to understand bravery, one must first understand its opposite – fear.

Fear. That dirty, four-letter word. It’s a creeper, a prohibitor. It is an enemy, and a cruel one at that. Most people don’t like to get to know their enemies, but I am of the opinion that one must not only know their enemies, but also understand them.

Like a lot people, two of my biggest fears are that of rejection and failure. Oof. Those things give me the heeby-jeebies just in mentioning them. Which makes sense, because they are supposedly the two contemporary greatest human fears alongside spiders, and running out of Oreos, and spiders, and tornadoes, and spiders and did I mention spiders? Okay. Maybe these things are just what I tend to fear on the regular, but you get the idea.

Search “overcoming fear” on the Googles, Pinterests and other areas of the inter webs and you are bound to be hit with a kajillion quotes (I love a good cliché, but for all intents and purposes, I will spare you).  The most profound thing I have learned about fear in my almost 30 years of life is that there really is no escaping it.

But knowing that fear is inescapable is exactly why bravery is of utmost necessity in life.

Fear is the thing that paralyzes, while bravery is the thing that frees. Fear is the thing that chooses mediocre, while bravery is the thing that takes the risk of chance, a chance that could bring greatness or defeat. Fear always leads to regret, while bravery leads to knowing.

Bravery requires endurance because it requires persistence and perseverance  – that thing that keeps you going after the proverbial fat lady has sung and the show is over. Bravery requires courage because first you must make the choice to be at the show, and then to get up and rock out with your bad self too.

When I think of all the people in my life who have been brave and who continue to be brave, I realize that bravery means many different things in many different situations.

Sometimes bravery means being the person who stands out in the crowd, who speaks up, and who must be a voice, either the voice they need to hear, or a voice for others. Sometimes bravery means having the prudence to pause, to sit in silence and to just be okay.

Sometimes bravery means putting up the fight of your life, and fighting till the very end. Sometimes bravery means raising up that white flag, accepting defeat, and finding the will to move on from that defeat without resentment, and with wisdom.

Sometimes bravery means to search for the things and the people who make you feel alive; to take risks, to be a long shot and an outlier. Sometimes bravery means to be grateful and content and satisfied with the state of your right here and right now.

But bravery, whatever it is some of the time, to be authentic, to be able to endure, to be an act of courage, must also be an act of love.

Whether of a thing or of a person or of a place, bravery must be manifested through this love. And to be brave you must accept that the great love of anything may result in heartbreak and pain and disappointment. To be brave, you must be willing to risk the possibility of a terrifying ending.

To be brave is to be alive and to live in such a way that the world knows you are afraid, but you love more than you fear.

Bravery rocks, kids!

Almost as much a plate full of Oreos.😉

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Hi there, friends.

Happy Friday to you all!

So there’s something I’ve been meaning to get off of my chest. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about toughness. Being tough, being strong, being resilient, being scrappy, being brave, being stubborn, being unfazed and unrattled and unshakeable and relentless.

Being confident.

All of these things are synonyms in places, overlapping like a weird venn diagram of words and emotions and feelings. These are all good things to have, great in fact! They work as assets no matter who you are or what you do. Everyone and their second cousin twice removed on their mom’s side faces criticism and critique at some point, and everyone has to rise again from their setbacks and road blocks. That’s just how life works. It ebbs and flows.

But of all of these tools in the spectrum of human emotion that help you get from valleys to peaks and back again, I just don’t think I want to have a thick skin.

For a long time, I tried to hide the fact that I was perhaps a little bit more sensitive than other people, that I took things to heart, cared almost too deeply about other people’s happiness, their pain and struggles and triumphs. I tried to squash that part of me; after all, if I didn’t feel, if I didn’t allow things to “get to me”, there was a far less chance of me ever getting hurt.

Pretty solid plan, no?

I thought so at the time.

Don’t get me wrong; I really admire people with thick skin, people like my sister who can tell it like it is, who can walk around with this air of confidence and a take-no-shiznit-from-anybody attitude. She’s tough (and strong and resilient and scrappy and brave and stubborn and unfazed and unrattled and unshakeable and relentless) and I love, love, LOVE that about her.

But the truth is, I don’t want things to just bounce off of me. I want to feel. Even if the feeling sucks. That feeling is just a simple reminder that I’m human.

We all are.

In some ways, thinking you’re not human–maybe invincible–is helpful. It’s the adrenaline that pushes you through something scary and challenging, and makes you think that you’re stronger than you are. It gives you courage, and that isn’t a bad thing. But it’s also important to recognize that you have the right to be scared at times, to worry and have doubts and be sad. So much has changed in the past 10 years alone; we live in a time where people, complete strangers can judge you and develop misguided opinions about you from a simple Tweet, a posted Instagram photo, a Facebook status. Even the news seems to be reporting on another tragedy or atrocity every single day. Violence, war, people shaming others simply because of what they look like or believe in. Life would, in theory, be so much easier if you felt and reacted less to all of this.

But I don’t think that’s the way to go about it. Often, telling someone else to grow a thicker skin is to excuse the actions of everyone around them. “People are awful, don’t let them get to you.” But of course awfulness is going to get to a person. Of course it will bug someone. That’s human nature. You can’t tell a person to not feel, just because it keeps the status quo intact.

And okay, some people can be hypersensitive about some things, but they have the right to feel any which way they choose. You can’t tell them a feeling is wrong. (You can tell them that the concepts on which they’re basing their feelings are misguided, but feelings in and of themselves are not right or wrong. They’re just feelings.) And excusing the actions of other people–that oh, people are just overwhelmingly shitty, grow a thicker skin, move on mentality–that’s to excuse that shittiness and let it keep happening.

Sure, you can only control your own actions and not the actions of other people, but your actions also include taking other people to task when their actions are bad. You don’t have to ignore, and you don’t have to roll over, and you don’t have to simply accept things as they are. You don’t have to grow a thicker skin.

You can and should be resilient. You should stand your ground as much as you can, and especially when it’s for things that are right. But don’t grow a thicker skin. Don’t teach yourself how to not feel.

Let things affect you. Let things get under your skin and crawl up your veins and sit uncomfortably with you until  you do something about them. Call people out when they say mean things to you. Or to those you love and care about. Stand up for yourself and for anyone else you see being bullied or put down.

We may mostly be grown ups, but we’re still not so far from the playground. And sometimes on the playground, you’d skin your knee and it would sting and you’d get gravel and grit in the cut, and it would hurt like a mother, but you would remember that sting and you would learn. Sometimes it was your own damn fault. Sometimes it was Billy Splinter who pushed you off the jungle gym. But just because it was somebody else who pushed you over doesn’t make it hurt any less. And sometimes, those scrapes left scars–I’ve got a few of my own, each telling a different story. Those moments of vulnerability though more times than not lead to lessons and breakthroughs. Those moments of weakness often tell us who we really are.

Be strong and confident and believe in yourself. By all means, be stubborn, and be smart about the fact that some people are just going to say and do stupid things just to hurt you. Or will say and do things without thinking or meaning any harm that will hurt you. It’s often smart and intuition to ignore these feelings, but having that wisdom is different than having a thick skin. Don’t confuse the two, whatever you do. Don’t grow a thick skin, or at least, keep parts of it vulnerable.

It’s okay to love deeply, care strongly and forgive.

Feel.

Be human.

Be imperfect.

Be alive.

RSVP By Dancing

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Embrace your messy.

Embrace your good and embrace, but continue to work on, your bad.

Surround yourself with people that see you as the best version of yourself, even when you’re at your worst. Know that everything that is happening in your life is happening FOR you, not to you. You are not a victim of your circumstances, you’re a constant work in progress.

I’ve never been one for surface relationships, friends, romantic relationships, family…I like the nitty gritty of people, because perfection doesn’t exist. And I hold myself to the same standard. Life is too short to live for saving face.

Wear your heart on your sleeve and don’t make apologies for it.

My life is SO vastly different now than it was just 1 year ago. 2016 has been full of hardships and heart break….but, 2016 has also been, more often than not, full of dancing on rooftops at 3am with my girlfriends, laughing until I cried and couldn’t catch my breath, making friends with strangers and discovering parts of this electric city I never knew existed.

I’ve challenged myself, I’ve grown, I’ve fallen and gotten back up.

I’ve sat in bookstores for hours, just me and my thoughts getting lost in the words, the pages. I’ve taken last minute hiking trips by myself because my head is clearest with an open trail and the incredible Colorado backdrop. I’ve had endless conversations with my friends on my kitchen floor, I’ve yelled at the top of my lungs because it made me feel better and have had countless moments of unadulterated and pure happiness.

I learned a lot about who I am instinctually as a person, and how to be more of the person I aspire to be.

2016 has been heartbreakingly beautiful.

And as much as I’d thought I’d say and remember 2016 as being one of the worst years, I can honestly say that 2016, as hard as it’s been at times, has been one of the best.
I’ve forgiven, and I’ve tried to forget.
I’ve held on, and finally allowed myself to move on. To live in the moment, the heres and the right nows.

But to also be intensely excited for the tomorrows, the soon-to-bes and coming-soons.

I’ve held out my hand, and accepted the invitation to the rest of my life, however messy and good and confusing and absolutely amazing that may be.

I’ve RSVP’d by dancing.

Will you do the same?

 

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Let’s face it, guys.

I’m probably the coolest uncool person in the history of ever. The fact that I just used the phrase “history of ever” only exemplifies that point. Over the years I have come to accept and love my weirdness, my uniqueness, my utter lack of anything and everything cool, however I didn’t always feel that way. I don’t know about you, but my middle and high school years were chock-full of awkward. There was also this sense of pressure to fit in, to be accepted, to feel included.  I spent so much time and energy trying to fit into this ideal, this image of what I was supposed to be in order to be “cool.”

It.was.exhausting.

Not only that, but I slowly lost who I really was. I listened to the ‘it’ music–because that’s what everyone was listening to, I wore the ‘in’ clothes–because you wouldn’t dare come to school dressed in anything but, and I laughed at all the wrong jokes.

It’s not unusual to feel pressure to conform to what society (or your peers) deems “cool.”A construct developed out of the sheer need/want to fit in, to feel like they are a part of something, included and liked. And don’t think that just because the hallways of high school are long behind us that this need to fit in suddenly disappears. Everyday we are constantly bombarded with messages, telling us what we should wear, how we should eat, the cars we should drive, even the kinds of toilet paper we should use.

This noise can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to ignore sometimes for sure, but I think that one of the coolest things you can do, the epitome of cool, is being who you are, listening to your own voice and rocking your uniqueness, your weirdness. Life is way too short to not be who you are, to hide your passions, your talents, your true you.

Here are just some of the things that are more important than being “cool”:

1. Falling head-over-heels, collision-with-the-ground in love with someone.

2. Being vulnerable, even if it’s terrifying and makes your stomach do somersaults.

3. Choosing that bag of **Doritos over that bag of kale chips. **When deciding between kale chips and literally anything else, choose anything else. Always.

4. Busting a move and ugly dancing in the middle of the room, even when no one else is.

5. Choosing to stay in on a Friday/Saturday night to read your favorite book instead. Again.

6. Wearing that 80’s hair band t-shirt because you actually like the band, not just because it’s ironic.

7. Cheering for that baseball/football/hockey/basketball team because you actually like them, not just because everyone else is/does.

8. Volunteering your time to something bigger than you.

9. Apologizing to people you have hurt.

10. Forgiving those who have hurt you.

11. Having a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie marathon.

12. Adopting a ‘Don’t Give A Flying Fuck About What Anyone Else Thinks About You’ mentality.

13. Giving every single ‘Flying Fuck’ known to mankind.

14. Learning all the words to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

15. Disconnecting from the interwebs/smart phones/social media every so often.

16. Wearing what makes you happy, comfortable, and confident.

17. Attempting to understand the perspectives of people whose values, beliefs and opinions are different than yours.

18. Respecting the values, beliefs and opinions that are different than yours, but not being afraid to standup for what you believe in.

19. Dad jokes. Just all of the dad jokes.

20. Puns. Just all of the puns.

21. Going on an adventure with no real plan.

22. Trusting again after losing faith in someone or something.

23. Going to a movie theater by yourself.

24. Going to dinner by yourself.

25. Approaching life with a sense of humor.

26. And a sense of wonder, excitement, and hope.

27. Liking stereotypically “cool” things.

28. Liking stereotypically “uncool” things.

29. Liking whatever the hell makes you happy.

30. Being unapologetically yourself.

I may be the coolest uncool person in the history of ever, but you know what?

That’s pretty damn cool.

I think it was my favorite doctor who said it best:

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Images viavia

Let’s talk dating, guys.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but just thinking about it makes me break out into hives. Dating in general is the fucking worst. And yet weirdly pretty damn awesome. And nerve-wracking. And just all of the awful. And pretty much the best thing ever.

And first dates?! Psh. Don’t even get me started. They’re a whole other beast, my friends.

A weird and awesome and nerve-wracking and awful and best-thing-ever beast. I think we’ve all been there before. We’ve all had that one first date that makes you want to crawl into your blanket fort and never, ever leave again. And we’ve also had that one first date that makes you ridiculously and annoyingly school-girl-crushy. That one first date that gives you hope, gives you just all of the butterflies pterodactyls, and makes you think that maybe, just maybe, this dating thang isn’t so bad.

First dates are arguably one of the most unique (read: awkward) experiences we will ever encounter, each complete with their own set of highs and lows, failures and successes. Take it from someone who has pretty much seen it all and then some.

To all of the fellas out there, listen up. I’m not necessarily speaking on behalf of all female datees out there, but generally speaking, here are just some of the many thoughts that will likely pass through our beautiful minds the next time you find yourself across the table from your next Sizzle date. (Yes, we now have a dating app for bacon lovers. This is a thing. An actual thing. Because ‘merrica. And because bacon.)

  • It’s 7:03pm. Does three minutes constitute as fashionably late?
  • Shit. This place looks really fancy. Should’ve maybe rethought the Ninja Turtle t-shirt.
  • No, it’s cool. I’ll look chill, like I just threw this on and looked effortlessly fabulous.
  • 7:06pm. All right, cover me. I’m going in.
  • Aw. He’s cute! From all the way over here at least.
  • I mean, he doesn’t look like a serial killer.

1

  •  He’s already sitting. Dammit! I needed to analyze his height compared to mine!
  • Handshake? Hug? Kiss on the cheek? I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS!!
  • Why am I so awkward? Like, I am the most awkward person ever. I should just go ahead and apologize to my date right now.
  • I’ve forgotten how to speak.
  • Say anything.
  • ANYTHING!

2

  • The weather? Really? That’s the best you could do?
  • Wait. It’s okay. He’s smiling. Just breathe.
  • You know what? He’s actually cuter in person. That’s an unexpected bonus I will gladly take.

3

  • Okay. Let’s cover the basics: work, hometown, college attended, siblings, favorite way to eat an Oreo.
  • Just pretend you don’t already know everything about him from stalking his social media. Act surprised!
  • Yep. Nope. Definitely acted way too surprised.
  • Oh thank God the waitress is here. Saved by the menu!
  • I’ll have everything in the “snacks” section. Self-control!

4

  • Umm, yes I’ll split the fries! I thought you’d never ask. #soulmates
  • This is going well.
  • Does he think it’s going well?
  • We’ve hardly had any awkward pauses.
  • Am I talking too much?
  • OMG he hates me.
  • Oh hot damn. The food’s here. Try not to look too excited.
  • Yep. Nope. Definitely looked way too excited.

5

  • Okay, it’s really hard to eat and avoid lulls in the conversation at the same time.
  • What if I’m an ugly eater?
  • I kind of have to pee.
  • Yep. Nope. I really have to pee!
  • DAMMIT WHY DID I WEAR A ROMPER??!! This is going to be at least a 20 minute ordeal.
  • I’m just going to hold it.
  • This dude’s pretty funny.
  • Wait, was that a joke? I don’t want to laugh if he was serious, and I can’t not laugh if he’s trying to be funny.
  • So the obvious solution is to make a creepy half-snort/half-grunt. Nice, Wendi. Nice.

6

  • Great! He’s going to the bathroom. Now, I can check my phone and actually eat my food in peace.
  • Wow! We survived made it through an hour already.
  • Selfie check! I still look cute.

7

  • Has he been in the bathroom a while?
  • Maybe he has stomach issues? Or he’s climbing out the window?
  • FUCK! He’s coming back. Don’t stare!
  • Hopefully he doesn’t notice I just shoved my face while he was gone.
  • Another drink? YAASSSS.

8

  • Is he playing footsie with me? Nope. That’s the guy at the table next to us. That’s not awkward at all.
  • I do think he’s flirting though. He’s laughing at all of my jokes. I’m not that funny.
  • Wait. What am I talking about? I’m fucking hilarious!
  • I kind of like this guy. But who am I to say, really? I def have to debrief w/ my BFF (and mom) later.
  • Oh shit! The bill. Dun, dun, dun.
  • Let me grab my purse and at least try to pay.
  • No, no, no. He just spent way too much money on me!
  • Awe!! But it was really sweet. Crap.
  • And he wants to drive/walk me home? SO SWEET! CRAPPPP!
  • I really do like him!
  • We’re getting really close to my building. What’s it gonna be??
  • Just be cool, Wendi. Stop doing that awkward thing you do with your hands and feet and just follow his lead.
  • There’s not even a name for the part of my face he kissed. Somewhere in the no man’s land between my cheek and my lips. Yep. That just happened.

9

  • Did he really mean “Let’s do this again soon”?
  • Going home and NOT recounting every last minute of this glorious night to my roomie dog while I wait for his text.
  • Yep. Nope. I totally am!!!

And this is why I don’t date, y’all.

This is why.

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When you think about the person who has a big heart, who cares deeply and cares hard, it probably conjures up a lot of assumptions.

They cry at movies and get weepy at commercials (this Google Chrome spot has the ability to turn anyone and their second cousin’s best friend’s uncle into a blubbering hot mess) without concern if someone is looking. They care about strangers more than you thought possible, light up at the possibility of helping someone–even if they have nothing to give them in return–and feel things so strongly and so deeply, that those feelings often make their decisions for them.

They lead with their heart instead of their head.

You might mistake this person for being impulsive, for a ‘leap before they look’ kind of guy/gal. And in a way, you’re right. Because the head says ‘wait’ but the heart says ‘go’. And they’re not the kind that can ever sit still when their heart is telling them to run somewhere.

But painting them simply as someone who has too many feelings and too big of a heart, who doesn’t have enough of a head on their shoulders to really think things through isn’t giving them enough credit. It’s writing them off as someone who is just feelings. As if feelings aren’t valid or strong or worth noting.

The truth about the person who leads with their heart instead of their head that you’re probably too afraid to admit? They’re braver than you.

The person who leads with their heart instead of their head isn’t afraid of the possibility of failing. They’re too busy chasing, loving, and giving to worry about the repercussions that may come back to hurt them. They’re more concerned about doing what feels best to waste time weighing and outweighing options that may never even see the light of day.

They’re too busy loving, and in turn living, to unnecessarily linger on the possibility that something might be the wrong choice.

The truth about leading with your heart is that it’s the scarier choice. It’s the riskier option. More can go wrong when you leap instead of look, when you love instead of hold back, when you feel instead of giving into fear. It’s the bolder choice; the choice that leaves more open to come back and smack you with negativity and pain.

Which is why it is a choice that should be commended, not shamed.

So to those who lead with their hearts and not their heads, who are constantly giving without expectation of receiving, who unapologetically have those hearts on their sleeves for the world to take a piece of: I commend you. 

You are brave in a world that so often tries to make souls like yours afraid of what they’re feeling. You take risks in a world where doing just that is an act of rebellion. You put yourself out there when everything realistically is pointing at you to do exactly the opposite.

You remain loving in a world that is often so unkind.

Never apologize for being that person. Never make your love smaller to protect yourself. Never repress what you want to shout from the rooftops.

Because you are someone who leads with their heart and not their head, and that is brave.

And that is beautiful.

And the world needs more people

just

like

you.

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