My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Why you should laugh in the face of fear (and do the damn thing!)

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Fear is a funny thing, guys. A funny thing, but also very necessary. If you go back in history, fear was what enabled the cavemen (and cavewomen because I’m pretty sure they were out there kicking some serious mammoth ass along with their male counterparts) to identify a dangerous situation. Fear heightens your senses, pumps adrenaline into your system, and it helps you survive whatever it is that’s scaring you.

And since we no longer have mammoths IRL–our lives are a lot less difficult and fewer stakes are raised–our fears tend to be the things we manifest inside ourselves. They’re the things we let fester, the dreams we never pursue, the chances we don’t take, the places we never visit, the people we never admit to loving, and the jobs we never apply for. There are so many things to be afraid of, but most of these things reside inside our own head. Because what if we fail? What if we never recover? What if, what if, what if?

But what it we don’t?

What if we do the scariest thing of all–what if we actually get everything we ever wanted?

I had a former track coach who would always tell me that you should get uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is where you begin to see changes. (If only I had a dollar for every time he lovingly barked this sentiment as I sweated through 200 meter suicides, my snazzy new Nike Frees would pay for themselves.) And it’s true–not just in the biological sense that your body responds to harder work by adapting and becoming stronger, but because your mind becomes stronger, too. You begin to withstand the scary things, the things you never thought you were capable of. And in this, you become more resilient.

Because being scared is uncomfortable. Being afraid is supposed to be uncomfortable–it lights that metaphorical fire under your ass in order to tell you to work towards being more comfortable. But there are two ways that you can do this: either retreating, and avoiding the thing in the first place, or working through it to the other side. Riding out the uncomfortable and the scary until you’re stronger and things aren’t as scary anymore. Fight or flight. Do or die.

Laughing in the face of fear and doing the damned thing anyway.

And of course, in order to really understand how to withstand the scary things life throws at us (relationships, jobs, failure, spiders and a serious Chik-fil-a craving on a Sunday afternoon), you have to get to the bottom of why you think it’s scary. Why it gets under your skin, why it terrifies you, why it dregs up memories of all the other times you faced scary things and didn’t come out stronger on the other side. There’s a whole host of reasons, really, and each will vary from person to person. But I think one of the things that connects this fear we all experience isn’t all that unique.

We’re most afraid of being happy. Of having a good life. A great life.

Not that we don’t want to–oh, of course we do. But we wonder if we deserve a good life, a great life. This doubt creeps in and we’re left second-guessing ourselves when we have to stand up to the thing that is in the way of our happiness. Of whatever it is we want. After all, what would happen if we wound up getting everything we wanted? What if it all got taken away?

But I guess that’s a risk with everything you do. So you might as well face the scary parts head on, because chances are, the outcome you want least to happen, might happen anyway. Whether you tried or not.

And if you don’t try, the what if–the magical, fantastical, best-case-scenario–will never happen at all.

Do the things that scare you. Get uncomfortable. Get really uncomfortable. Stand your ground. Speak up and go after the things you want, no matter how scary it is. Apply for that job, tell the person you’re crushing on that you like them, take that risk.

And if you do wind up with everything you ever wanted it’s because you did that work. You put in the effort, you found the grit within yourself, you realized that the scariest things in this world can sometimes be the most wonderful.

We’re scared of change, is all. But change is good for us. Great, even.

Change is how we learn, how we grow, how we overcome those mammoths.

And there’s nothing more fulfilling or badass than that, my friends.

Get Lost

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Fun fact about me: I am horrible at directions, y’all. Like, the absolute worst. My GPS is the end-all, be-all, and not a day goes by that I don’t end up spending eons searching for my car in the parking lot of Target, panic-sweating in the process.

My first ‘welcome to Colorado’ hiking experience–a hike that shouldn’t have been more more than 2 hours long–ended up being more like a 4 6 hour tour. Three wrong turns, two  loops around the same damn mountain and a few four-letter words thrown around and I finally did make it to the trail head. But not without a little a lot of that same panic-sweat.

Thank god for my weird habit of always having chocolate in nearly every pocket of everything I’m wearing at any given time. Except when that ‘given time’ happens to be a 90-degree day in the middle of July. The scar from having my fellow hikers be privy to the melted Snickers on my ass pocket still hasn’t quite worn off yet. 

Sorry.

Back to the point of this sweet, hot mess.

Getting lost. Not knowing the way. Trying, and falling flat on your chocolate-covered ass.

I used to think that it was bad thing.

But now? Now I think getting lost is necessary, needed, vital for each and everyone one of us to learn, to grow to experience new and incredible things. After all, some of the best moments I’ve had in my almost 30 years thus far have been a direct result of veering off course, taking the path less traveled so to speak.

It seems like we spend most of our lives trying to define ourselves. Every choice we make seems to say something about who we are and how we fit into the world. Then there’s this idea, that after you go on some life-changing trip or have some realization that you can truly “find yourself.” That you’ll just wake up one day and say, “Ohhhhhh, so this is who I am. Huh. Guess I don’t have to look anymore!”

Well kids, I’m here to say that idea is a load of bull funky.

My advice: Never, ever stop looking for yourself. Keep digging and discovering new things about who you are. Surprise yourself with things you didn’t know you were capable of. Push yourself to be better and try new things just for the hell of it. You might hate it, but you also might really, really love it.

Get lost.

Stop trying to fit yourself into some category or box just to make yourself more understandable to other people. You don’t have to explain who you are to anyone if you don’t want to. Live life on your terms.

And just because you haven’t “found yourself” yet (whatever that means) doesn’t mean you never will, or that you’re any less complete because of it. In fact, I will go as far to say as it’s almost better if you haven’t. Declining to define yourself for the convenience of others is freeing.

Keep discovering things you love and things you hate.

Figure out what you want and don’t want.

Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

You should never get comfortable in being stagnant, in the sameness, in the never-changing and familiar.

Always keep looking, and just remember that the day you find yourself is the day you stop growing as a person.

Celebrating Four Incredible Years

At about exactly this time, exactly four years ago, I crossed the Colorado state line ready and just so damn excited to start a new adventure, to turn a new page in this already crazy and wonderful life I had been authoring up until this point. My VW Bug was stuffed to the brim with everything I owned (plus a few just all of the Twizzlers/Pringles/Milk Duds because what’s a cross country, life-changing road trip without some junk food amiright??) My heart was overflowing with pride, and my stomach was turning a constant rotation of cartwheels, excited yet a bundle of nerves.

What if this doesn’t work out? Am I making the right decision? BUT DO THEY EVEN HAVE A CULVER’S THERE?!

As I stepped out of my car, my legs stiff and my eyes heavy from driving over 22 hours, these questions–and so many more–were running through my head on the repeat.

I was terrified.

But I was also incredibly happy. Like, eating a giant ice cream cone on a sunny Friday afternoon in a park full of puppies, happy.

Taking in that first sight of majestic Rocky Mountain goodness in front of me, I was home.

When I decided a little over four years ago to take a giant leap of faith and make the big move, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I did something so very unWendi-like and jumped without looking. I stuck a giant middle finger up to any kind of plan, any premeditated form of action. I felt, and I did. I didn’t have a job lined up, I knew just a handful of people and wasn’t even sure if I would like living in the Mile High City. All I really knew for sure was that if I didn’t try, if I didn’t take this chance now, I might never get the opportunity to do so again. I also knew that if I fell back on that fear of things not working out, if I chose instead to remain forever in my comfort zone, there would be some serious regretage going on.

And if there is one thing I have learned in my almost 30 years thus far, it’s that regret is no friend of mine.

So I jumped.

I jumped hard.

And that by far has probably been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made to date.

For four years I have been lucky enough to call Denver my home. For four years, I have been able to call the mountains my playground, my weekend escape. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets imaginable, I’ve hiked some of the most challenging and breath-taking trails, explored the urban jungle that is downtown Denver and tasted some of the best food (And beer! Yes, I am now a beer fan! Well, getting there anyway) I’ve ever had.

Professionally I’ve had some very challenging and rewarding opportunities that have really helped to shape not only me as a librarian/social media/writer boss chic, but also have served as a reminder that I’m damn good at what I do, that I love what I do, and to never, ever never stop pursuing that dream of mine no matter what obstacles may get in my way. I’ve worked with some strong-willed and big-hearted people, have helped to inspire some incredibly talented and motivated students, and have learned and grown from each and every one of them.

Personally, I’ve broken out of this silly shell I’ve been hiding behind. Moving somewhere new by yourself kind of forces you to put your badass self out there and meet people, no matter how you end up doing that. I’ve met some incredible new friends, have reconnected with old ones and have made too many memories to count.

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The late-night conversations, the too-close-to-call softball games, the good first dates and the ones you wish you could Ctrl Alt Delete. The summer baseball games at Coors Field and Packer games at Badgers, the bike rides, snowball fights and Harry Potter movie-marathons. The pool parties, happy hours, road trips and barbeques.

The smiles.

The hugs.

The uncontrollable laughter.

These past four years have made my heart so incredibly full, nearly as full as my ever-shrinking apartment—the number of books I’ve accumulated since I’ve been here is embarrassing, guys. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next 2, 5, 10 or 15 years to come.

I’ve come a long way since making the decision to start this grand adventure—over 8,000 miles and an immeasurable amount of self-growth, courage, spontaneity and a ‘You only get one life so you better damn make it the best possible life there is’ mentality. If I can take just one thing away from this is that it’s never to late to make a change, to face that fear or worry and do the damn thing! You’ll never know the amazingness that awaits you on the other side if you never try.

Cheers to four years, y’all!

A Small Thank You Note

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Hi kids.

I know this is the time of year when everyone likes to look in the rear-view mirror and reflect on the past 365 or so days–their highs and lows, accomplishments and things they want to do better next year. And all of this is good. We need to look back. It reminds us of where we came from. Started from the bottom, now we’re slightly higher up from the bottom, top-adjacent if you will.

Despite the messiness and craziness and just plain suckiness that this year has brought, there was actually a lot of good, y’all. A LOT! (More to come on that soon in a future post.) Being the forever optimist that I am, I’m choosing to focus on that. The smiles, the laughs, the new beginnings and adventures and friends and experiences, the unforgettable moments that made me sit back and say much to the same effect as, “Hot DAMN this life is amazing!”

When I look back at my 2016, I see a lot of things that I never thought would have been possible. Not just this year, but ever. And a lot of it is due in part to the crazy social media machine that none of us can ever unplug from. It’s a very love-hate relationship, but one that I am ever so thankful for.

Because of this crazy machine, I have a job. A pretty incredible job. Yes, the fact that there are specific positions out there solely devoted to and around the idea of social media is crazy sauce to me. Building and solidifying connections, information and being able to use my words to inspire, evoke action and make a difference. I think one of the things I love most about what I do day in and day out is being able to have that kind of positive influence and power. Yeahhhhno it’s safe to say that I was given the lucky straw when I landed this gig. Did I ever foresee myself in the position that I am? To be honest, not really. But life is funny that way. Sometimes things fall into your lap, opportunities that may at the time seem unobtainable and ridonkulous, but that’s no reason to not go for them, to try.  If there’s anything I’ve learned this past year (besides the secret on how to make the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich), it’s that you should take opportunities that are too good to pass up. Even if they’re terrifying. Especially if they’re terrifying.

And can I talk about the people who have come along for the ride with me? The people who have inspired me, made me laugh, made me ask hard questions and think deeper. People who are out there doing their kickass things in the most kickass of ways, whether it be through photography, traveling, writing, dancing, car-karaoking, grilled cheese making or a wicked combo of all of these. You are those people for me. So, thank you.

Thank you to anyone who has ever so much as replied to a dumb joke I’ve made or fav’d something in sympathy or empathy or anything. Every time someone has ever reached out to me to say that something I wrote resonated with them, or made them feel less alone, or even just made them laugh, I’ve felt less alone myself. It’s a never-ending cycle, and I’m not sure any of us really realize the scope of what we do when we connect with total strangers online. Because they’re not total strangers, really. I would trust some of you with my life.

You guys are my friends.

It’s weird…I don’t know if y’all know how truly grateful I am for you, and though it would involve way more than 140 characters, I can’t seem to be able to put it into words. So here’s to 2017, and every crazy adventure that’s coming for me, for you and for us.

I’ll take you along for the ride if you take me on yours.

And never be a stranger — the internet is way too small for that.

15 Signs You Literally Don’t Give a F@*& Now That You’re Almost 30

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Ugh.

I’m getting old, guys.

Like, ‘in bed by 9 o’clock, gets hurt while playing kickball, can’t remember if I ate lunch so I eat second lunch’ old.

I’m more than half way into my 29th year and while for the most part I still feel and look my age, I definitely have my moments where I can’t help but feel like I’m inching ever so slightly over that damn hill. Despite my incessant complaining however, I’m glad I’m in the place in life that I am. It may have taken me a while to get here, but I finally have learned to embrace the things I want, and don’t want. The things I like, and don’t like. Life is way too short to worry about things that aren’t worth worrying about.

Ya dig?

Here are just 15 signs that you literally don’t give a f@*& now that you’re almost 30.

1. When people invite you to social outings that you don’t want to go to, you don’t come up with any particular excuse. You just say, “No.” And it feels glorious.

2. When you experienced a friend getting engaged for the first time, you were like, “OMFG WEDDINGS YASSS LOVE!!!” But now when it happens, you’re just like, “Aw. I’m so happy for you. Brb. I need to order a pizza.”

3. Forever 21 is a young man’s game. If a retail store stresses you out and only carries clothes that seem to be made for American Girl dolls, you’re donzo.

4. You’ve started referring to high school students as “children” or “youths.”

5. You don’t make any attempts to hide your hangovers anymore. They happen so easily (like, 2-3 beers easily) that you don’t even fight them. You just let them take over your soul.

6. Your weight fluctuates more than Chandler’s. And it’s whatever.

7. In your opinion, looking like you showered is the same thing as actually showering.

8. “Does anyone have any Pepto?” is something you frequently utter during dinner with your friends.

9. Brunch has become more about the quality of the bacon than about the deals you can get on bottomless mimosas.

10. Nope. Scratch that. It’s still all about the mimosas.

11. When someone tries to start a political discussion at a party, you just look at them like:

cinderella

12. Dressing uncomfortably is awkward for tweens. These days, you’re all about wearing your favorite t-shirt during a night out.

13. You’re less concerned with how good you look for work today and more concerned with how long you can hit the snooze button before you have to crawldrag yourself kicking and screaming out of your bedroom cave.

14. Life is stressful these days. So if you need a good cry while riding public transportation, you’re damn well certain you’ll make it happen.

15. Joining a gym is for recent college grads. You’d prefer to just live in a 4th-floor walk up and leave the house every once in a while.

Or, I mean, you could just join a debilitating kickball team.

QOTD: What are some things that you just don’t give a f@*& about now that you’ve reached a certain age?

Giving Thanks (and a little Bill Murray)

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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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