My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

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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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:

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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?

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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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