My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Archive for the ‘My Two Cents’ 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.

Bridges of Change

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Change.

I’ve always been a little resistant, to be honest. I take confront in the known, the expected, the easy. The last few weeks however have shown me that change isn’t something to be afraid of, but embraced. With anything in life, there is that chance that you will get hurt, fail, experience some sort of loss. Before, I had always associated that risk to be greater when you went against the status quo, made waves, broke away from the norm and illicit that change.

But now? Now I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t.

If I don’t stand up for what I believe in.

If I don’t take action against the wrong-doings in this world.

If I keep my voice silenced and my actions mute.

I have never been one to be accusatory or negative or hateful. I get hives just thinking about confrontation and have avoided it like the plague for as long as I can remember.

And in a lot of ways, I still very much am that person.

But now? Now I’m not afraid anymore.

I’m not afraid to do, think, feel.

I welcome the opportunity to do anything and everything I possibly can to show my support, to fight for the good that I believe is still very much left in the world, to make all of the damn waves.

To not only see the change and welcome it with open arms, but to be a part of its strength.

The road to transformation isn’t meant to be easy.

But it also isn’t meant to be traveled alone. We need each other. Through the thick, the thin, the in-betweens. In the ups, the downs, the unpredictable joys and hardships and messes that life sometimes brings.

When we don’t create space for hard conversations to happen and instead, turn away and become silent about the things that matter most–that’s the moment we have chosen to stop learning about the world we live in, and the people we share it with.

Come and meet me on the bridge. Let’s celebrate our differences.

The Heart of the Matter

 

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I was recently asked by someone if I had ever been in love. When I was forced to admit my honest answer, no, it made me think.

Granted this conversation was after one three glasses of wine, and Moscato has a sneaky way of making me get just all of the philosophical. I once had a two-hour conversation about the deeper meaning and lessons behind the Monty Python films. Hint: it involved a lot of me talking in a terrible British accent and Spam. I wish I was joking.

I’ve been on this beautiful Earth for almost 30 years now, and I’ve had many incredible life experiences, but what this particular person made me realize was that I’ve never really experienced the feeling of “being in love.”

Sure there was Kody Kremsreiter, my first “love.” We were both five, lived across the street from one another and both had the same obsession with Saturday morning cartoons, The Berenstain Bears and chicken nuggets. In 5th grade, it was Jason Kopp. He shared his War Heads with me on the playground and always picked me first when playing kickball in gym class. Guys, if that isn’t the making of true love, I don’t know what is.

I’d like to say that my dating style improved as I got older, but that was not the case.  My middle name is awkward (actually, it’s Joe, but potato poe-tah-toe) and I never aced the whole flirting thing. I still haven’t tbh. I never really had a steady boyfriend. Sure, there were guys who I dated in high school and college and even within the last few years, guys who definitely gave me the butterflies, who I would stay up late talking to on the phone eliciting all the nervous laughs and palm sweats, guys who I thought were “the one.”

But the truth is, I’ve never had that deep down, feel-it-in-your-toes, over the moon, head-over-heels, soul-gripping and down right amazing love feeling. This isn’t to say that these guys weren’t wonderful people. They were incredible! Funny, kind, smart and big-hearted. This also is in no way a rumination seeking sympathy, and it isn’t to reflect on some kind of deprivation. My life has been anything but deprived. In fact, this is just the opposite. It’s the appreciation of how full of love my life has been.

I think what my friend was asking was if I had ever experienced that stereotypical romantic love, the kind of love that makes you reminisce over who said “I love you” first, the kind of love you hear about from grandparents who’ve sustained their relationship for over 50 years, the kind of love that makes you cross continents just to be with someone. No, I’ve never personally been in this kind of love…yet. But just because I’ve never been in love, doesn’t mean I haven’t been surrounded by it.

And when I say I’m surrounded by love, I’m not necessarily referring to seeing friends getting engaged, or sending my parents an anniversary card every year (HI MOM AND DAD!!!). I’m referring to the non-stereotypical, unromantic, and yet completely unconditional love that has helped to make my life complete. I’ve never said those three magic words, “I love you” to an SO, but I have said them to people who I do in fact love, and I think those three words hold just as much meaning whether they’re said romantically or not.

I know without a doubt that this romantic love is indescribably fantastic–I’ve seen it in my grandparents, in my parents, in the relationships that my friends and other family members have.  I’m sure that there are others who are both younger and older than me who have never truly had it, but that doesn’t make their life any less complete than those who have. Don’t assume that the absence of romantic love makes the presence of loneliness that much more apparent. I don’t feel empty because I’ve never loved someone romantically, I feel grateful because I have been lucky enough to have loved and be loved in so many other ways.

When romantic love has let me down, unromantic love has been there to pick me up. When a friend understands you better than you understand yourself, that’s love. When a parent endlessly supports your passions even when you question them, that’s love. When your sibling consoles your broken heart even if theirs is hurting too, that’s love. When your dog or cat rushes over to you, tail wagging after a long day, knowing just how to cheer you up with a sloppy lick of the face, that’s love. Y’all, my life is full of love, and while it may not be romantic, it’s whole.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly excited to feel those feels one day. I think anyone would be. Being in love is an amazing thing, it’s one of the things that drives us all.

But until that happens, I will cherish the love I do have in all the different ways it presents itself. 🙂

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!

My New Year’s Wish For You

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We are heading into the home stretch of 2016, guys.

It’s safe to say it’s been a year full of ups, full of downs and so many in betweens. I think this time of year and the angsty reflection that comes with it can prove to be a chance to give ourselves a much-needed pep talk. Think the booming voice of James Earl Jones reverberating from the sky each night, encouraging us to remember who we are. (Or maybe that’s just my Google maps telling I took a wrong turn. Again.) It’s a chance to remind ourselves of what we’ve loved about our lives and ourselves this past year, and to be okay with all the imperfections. To love them, even, because they’ve made us who we are, at this very moment, here and now.

It can also be a time to look forward at what’s to come. Between you and I, I’ve never been a big fan of resolutions, instead focusing more on improving an already greatly lived life. And y’all, I’ve lived a pretty damn great life thus far in my almost 30 years. But there are always things that I can improve on, do differently, figure out and try. That’s kind of the beauty of life though, isn’t it? It’s never too late to do or see or feel or experience.

My wish for you this new year is that you do just that.

In this new year, I hope you do things that challenge you.

That trip to Australia that you have been dying to take, that side job you know will push your limits or that coffee date with a loved one you haven’t seen in years. I hope you do things that frighten you, like kiss the person who makes your heart flutter, or send that risky text or reach out to an old friend and repair a broken relationship. It is in these hard moments that you grow the most, that you strengthen your heart, that you learn who you are and who you wish to become. So I hope you decide to challenge yourself in this new year. Your mind and your body are more powerful than you think.

In this new year, I hope you say yes.

Say yes to that date, say yes to that slice of chocolate cheesecake, say yes to that girls’ weekend in Las Vegas or the boys’ softball tournament in the city. Say yes to that new project at work. Say yes to something you never thought you would. Say yes to something that’s probably going to end up terribly, but is still worth it for the experience and the lessons. Say yes because yes gives you opportunities. Say yes because saying yes is infinitely better than wondering what could have happened.

In this new year, I hope you go after what you want.

Life is too short to wonder what could have been, or to waste time chasing the wrong things. If it’s a job you want or a person you love, if it’s a future you’ve believed in or a dream you’ve been craving, go after it, fully and completely. I hope this year is one for selfish pursuits and confidence. I hope that all that you take steps forward where you were hesitant. I hope you stop holding back.

In this new year, I hope you are fearless.

I hope you stop second-guessing and questioning your decisions. I hope you stop wondering ‘what if’ and playing it safe. I hope you always use your head, but I hope you follow your heart, too. I hope you learn that fear is holding you back from who you could be, and you don’t allow it to anymore.

In this new year, I hope you smile.

I hope you find reasons to be happy, big or small, and carry those with you wherever you go. I hope you stop worrying about things you can’t control or people you can’t change. I hope you speak words of kindness to yourself and to others. In this new year, I hope you’re happier.

In this new year, I hope you live louder.

I hope you laugh more. I hope you sing at the top of your lungs. I hope you drive with the windows down and let the wind rustle through your hair. I hope you hug. I hope you kiss. I hope you surround yourself with people who make you feel alive. I hope you become the type of person that brings good energy wherever you go, and the type of person people want to be around. I hope you speak what’s on your mind, that you raise your voice for injustice, that you tell others that you love them, instead of waiting until it’s too late. I hope you live louder, shine brighter. This is your year.

If I’ve learned anything this past year (besides finally figuring out how to fold a fitted sheet), it’s that we shouldn’t be in such a rush to figure everything out. Embrace the unknown, try, fail, make mistakes. Let life surprise you!

Cheers my friends, to an incredible and unforgettable 2017!

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.

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