My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Change’

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.

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!

28 things I’ve learned by 28

This Saturday I turn 25 for the third time (so weird how that happened, right?!). Actually, I’m turning the big 2-8 and while I would normally be freaking out just a little bit, I’m surprisingly pretty chill about that fact that I’m inching ever so closely to my thirties and…ohmygoshimgettingsodamnoldhowdidthishappen?! Okay. I’m maybe slightly possibly kinda sorta freaking out about it. But ever the more reason to celebrate, right?!

Right.

So celebrate I will, damn it! Friday night I’m going out with some friends to whoop it up downtown Denver and then on Saturday the sis and I are going up to Ft. Collins to see my friend play in his band. It should be a great time and a perfect way to ring in my 25th x 3 year 28th year.

But before I put my party hat on and dig into the cake, I wanted to take a second to reflect on not only this past year (which has been pretty amazing, if I do say so myself), but all of my 28 years thus far. I like to think as you get you older, you get wiser. You experience new things, you make mistakes, you learn, you grow.  As you get older, you also begin to form a sort of perspective about life; love, relationships, your career and yourself. You recognize the things that you value most–the things that are important–and the things that aren’t. I don’t think I would be where I am at right now if I hadn’t done those things. It’s actually fun to look back and see how you have changed; to think about those experiences you would do over again; my first concert, sky diving, moving across the country and landing my dream job and those that you probably wouldn’t; my first kiss (sloppy, just so sloppy), my obsession with crimped hair and Doc Martins (basically all of sixth grade) and when my grandma lost her battle with cancer.

Through all of those experiences, I’ve changed, I’ve grown and have gone through some pretty crazy hair styles.

Here are 28 things that I have learned in my 25 x 3 28 years so far:

1. Mom really does know best.

I’ve always been close to my mom, but as I’ve gotten older a whole new respect, admiration and love for her has developed. She is the strongest woman I know and I can only hope to be like her one day. And those things she has always told you (always carry a jacket with you just in case it gets cold, listen to your heart—it will never steer you wrong, and all you need is a little faith) were absolutely right!

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2. Smile.

You never know the impact you may have on another person simply by smiling at them or saying hello.

3. Do what makes you happy.

As long as it’s not a felony, basically. Life is too short to miss out on all the chances to be happy, to experience new and exciting things, to live the most kiss-ass life ever.

4. Floss.

5. Plans will change.

According to the plans I made in my early 20’s, I should be married with 2.5 kids, living in a cute cottage on the lake somewhere while working on the follow-up to my NY Times award-winning novel right now. The reality is that I’m about as close to living the direct opposite of that life as humanly possible. Cue ironic laughter. But you know what, that’s okay. Where I am right now is pretty alright. Things don’t always work out the way you planned them, and not just the big stuff—sometimes you will be handed a chocolate chip cookie, when all you wanted really was a peanut butter one. It’s important to embrace what comes, unexpected or not, and just roll with the punches. Sometimes the best laid plans are those that aren’t….planned, that is.

6. Tell those that are important to you how much you love them as often as you can.

7. Love your body.

‘F’ fashion, ‘F’ photoshop, ‘F’ the media. If you treat your body well, move it, put good things in it, care for it–it doesn’t matter what it looks like. You only have one body, there’s no use in hating on it because (in case you didn’t get the memo) you’re literally stuck in it. Embrace what you have and shake what your momma gave you!

8. The truest beauty is found from within.

It’s really not that hard to be a good person. It mostly just means being considerate of other folks and not being a jerk. Being a jerk actually takes more effort to do than being a good person, because you have to actively do jerk-like things, whereas being good is as simple as a smile (see above).

9. There’s always room for dessert. Always.

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10. Read for the sake of reading.

Don’t do it to be smart or to impress anyone. Do it because you want to get lost in a story, you want to feel all the feelings and see what it’s like to live in somebody else’s shoes. It doesn’t matter what you read; just read. Also, there’s no such thing as having too many books. Take it from someone who does.

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11. You’re never too old for blanket forts and Play-Doh.

12. Pizza is never a bad idea. Have another piece.

13. Life doesn’t necessarily ever get better.

There are good times and there are bad times. Always. You just get stronger and learn how to laugh at yourself.

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14. Never miss an opportunity for car karaoke. Ever.

13. The only thing more crippling than the fear of failure, is the realization you’ve missed or thrown away opportunities due to your fear of failure.

Do. Try. Make as many mistakes as you can. Another piece advice from my mom (see above) is that you will never know unless you put yourself out there and just go for it!

14. And if you happen to fail—which you will, and that’s perfectly okay, dust yourself off, get back up and try, try, again.

15. Make pantless Saturday nights in a thing as much as possible.

16. This is the best show in the history of ever. Do not even try to fight me on this.

17. You’re never going to be able to make everyone happy. And that’s okay.

Be honest, open to new experiences and opportunities, and dedicate time to activities that are constructive and make you happy. Worrying about what others are thinking of you is not going to achieve anything. So just do you.

18. Laugh hard, laugh much, laugh often.

19. Travel hard, travel much, travel often.

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20. If someone doesn’t look at you the way you look at a burrito, then move on.

This whole love thing is hard. In fact, it’s a battlefield. But one of the things I’ve learned is that it really shouldn’t be. If it’s good and pure and true love, it should just come naturally, it should be easy. I don’t think I’ve found my burrito…yet, but I know that when I do, it will be amazing and wonderful and will put Chipotle to shame.

21. Pick up the phone and call your friends/family.

No texts, no i-messages, no emails. Just talk. Every once in a while real convos with the people who mean the most to you are just the thing that you—and they, need.

22. You’re allowed to say no.

23. But you also shouldn’t be afraid to say yes.

24. Giant, suffocating bear hugs are the best.

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25. Pray.

26. Banana, stuffed with marshmallows and chocolate, wrapped in tin foil over an open fire.

Do it.

27. Don’t you dare give up. Ever.

28. Life is crazy.

It’s unpredictable and weird and absurd and completely bonkers. You will meet amazing people and see incredible places. You will fall, get back up and fall again. You will have your heart broken, only to have someone walk into your life and put the pieces back together again. You will wonder, you will dream, you will inspire.

Life is crazy. But it’s also pretty damn amazing.

I may be turning 25 x 3 28, and it may be a bit scary, but if this is what I have learned, what I’ve been able to experience so far? Bring on the next 28 years, baby!

I’m ready!

Change for Change

“Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck.”

Most have you have probably heard this expression before. You’re walking down the crowded busy street when all of a sudden, you spot with your little eye honest Abe smiling up at you from the sidewalk. You stop in your tracks. You don’t care if you cause a minor collision with the hoards of pedestrians busily trying to get to where they need to go nor do you mind if you look a little awkward as you bend over in the middle of a cross walk for no apparent reason. All of the effort is worth it because this little copper coin has just landed you a day full of luck…and who couldn’t use a bit of that every now and then?

There is no scientific proof that simply picking up a penny will give you stupendous luck for the rest of the day, but I like to think it does. I’m not superstitious gal (with the exception of my lucky socks and baseball hat that I HAVE to wear every time the Brewers play) and generally don’t take too much stake in things like this, but there is a certain feeling of optimism and hope that you get whenever you do find that ‘lucky penny’ that is insurmountable. It’s the belief that maybe, just maybe, this little coin will have some sort of positive impact on your life. I guess you could say it has a pretty powerful placebo effect; the penny may just be that, a penny. However, you trick yourself into thinking that it is some magical coin which possesses some sort of lucky influence. In turn, it makes you do things and behave a certain way that ultimately changes the outcome of your day…you make your own luck.

I was thinking about the powerful yet subtle effects that finding a lucky penny brings as I was taking a stroll down my block earlier this afternoon. I was crossing the street when I happened to glimpse out of the corner of my eye my very own lucky penny. I stooped down and snatched the coin up, turning it around in my fingers for a brief moment. It was very old–minted all the way back in 1945–and covered in dirt, but I put it in my pocket anyway for safe keeping, hoping that it would bring good luck. Whether it actually would or not I didn’t know, but I instantly felt like I had a bit more of a skip in my step, like anything could happen. It may sound a little silly, but I am that crazy person who you see bending over in the supermarket, on the sidewalk and in the aisles of Target, dropping bags and purses (and that one time flashing some poor guy my skivies…just one reason this chica doesn’t do skirts) all to get a mere penny. I have done it since I was a wee lass and probably will continue to do so. Like I said, the lucky penny may just be a penny, but it kind of gives me hope that it is much more than that.

If finding a penny on the ground could turn my frown upside down and turn a very blah sort of day into something great, I wondered if it could do the same for other people. How cool would it be if I could change someone’s hour or day or life simply by emptying out my pocket change?

I know what it’s like to be going through a hard time, to be having a bad day or to feel like things are just not going your way. Life is hard and stressful, full of pressures and expectations. It can get pretty overwhelming at times for sure but I know also know what it’s like to suddenly feel like you can make it, like you have the strength and the courage and the power to turn things around for the better. It is such a great feeling. Now I know it takes a heck of a lot more than finding a silly penny to make these things happen (but wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t?) but setting up an opportunity for people to find their ‘luck’, to put a smile on their face and a skip in their step is a huge step in the right direction.

That is why I came up with and have started the ‘Change for Change’ initiative. I plan on spreading a little ‘luck’ everywhere I go by sporadically dropping and leaving pennies in areas where people are likely to see, and if they so choose, pick up. I am not sure if anyone follows the “find a penny pick it up” notion quite like I do, but I am willing to take that chance in hopes of brightening someone’s day and giving them the same hope that I receive whenever I stumble across that infamous one cent piece. The whole concept is really so easy and fun to do. Break a dollar? Find some change in your couch? Have a purse or bag or wallet that weighs a bajillion pounds due to all that loose coinage happening in there? Take some of those pennies and set them aside for “Change for Change’. When you find a prime spot to drop them, do it. It’s that simple. I completed my first penny-drop today, using the very penny I had found earlier, outside of a Starbucks and actually got to see my efforts pay off. A little girl found my penny just moments after I had made the drop and squealed with delight as she picked it up, smiling ear to ear and exclaiming to her mom, “Mom look what I found! A lucky penny!” I’m not gonna lie, it made my heart smile just a wee bit. 🙂

I would absotively-positutely love it if you would like to join me in this challenge, paying it forward and changing lives, once penny at a time (and please feel free to share your stories with me if you do!).

I hope you all have a very lucky rest of your Tuesday guys!

Fight Fear with Fear

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope that this week has been great for you so far 🙂

Get ready to put on your reading pants my friends because I’ve got a slightly wordy one for you today.

You see, last night as I made my way home on the 40 D bus, like I do almost every day when quitting time rolls around, I found myself fighting a serious case of ‘Nascar Brain’. I am sure you have all felt it at one point or another, your mind racing a million mph, thinking and analyzing and pondering every idea from here to the moon. Even the complete hilariousness that is Weird Al (just downloaded his new CD on the i-pod…super funny!) couldn’t deter me away from my rampant thoughts. Don’t you just wish sometimes that your brain had an off switch or a mute button? That on occasions when  your brain is going a mile a minute, you could take a breather from yourself and just, well, be? I certainly do. They say a great mind is a terrible thing to waste, but every now and then, I don’t think it would hurt if it decided to take a quick siesta.

I’m sorry…where was I again? Oh that’s right…Last night as I headed home in a stupor of thoughts, one of the things that was occupying my frontal lobe was the concept of fear–something I must admit I struggle with on a near daily basis, or I used to anyway.

I’m not talking about your quote unquote “typical” kinds of fears like spiders, heights, or that this country will never find a cure for Beiber-Fever (spiders I can handle and heights are no match for me, but an endless soundtrack of “Baby, Baby, Baby Oh”? Now that is something to be terrified of for surely–no offense to all of the Beliebers out there).

No, the type of fear that I am talking about is the sneaky kind. The kind that often looks and seems harmless from the outside, but is chock-full of anxiety and worry, causing many a sleepless night. Brave and confident I may seem, this fear tends to rear its ugly head (and smelly foot) in my life any and every chance it gets.

I fear that I am missing out on life, on all of the exciting and adventurous and amazing opportunities that it can bring.

…but I also fear that by taking a risk and going after these opportunities, I might fail.

I fear being hurt by others.

…but I also fear that I might miss out on a chance to form meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

I fear the unknown.

…but I also fear that things will never change.

I fear making hasty decisions.

…but I also fear I over-think too much.

(Clearly this post is leaning towards the latter, ahem.)

For the longest time, I thought that these fears were normal, that everyone at some point in their lives battled these feelings and thoughts. I thought that I was just being smart, that I was thinking things through and being aware and cautious of all the implications of my choices. The truth is, my fears have been a disable for me. They have turned me away from opportunities and experiences and relationships that I could have had, all because I was afraid and scared of the unknown, the not-knowing, the constant topsy-turvy flip of the coin. Life is only as good as what you make it, and by letting fear take a hold of me, I was not “living” to my full potential.

I have thankfully learned that these fears are not normal and have combatted them, karate-chopping my way through each fear, one by one (I may seem small but I am feisty–Mr. Miyagi knows his stuff). Over the span of just a few months, I have been through many changes; I moved to a new city, started a new job, am living on my own away from family and close friends for the first time, not  to mention having to evict, with force, the neighborhood of spiders that seem to have taken up my residence at the moment (ICK!). At first, each of these ‘changes’ was a fear of mine, something that I was slightly nervous about doing or trying but with the completion and conquering of each one, came the added strength to tackle the next. I started to like how it felt to finally be free of all of these extra and useless thoughts taking over my mind. I liked how it felt not to worry about the worse-case-scenario all of the time and just go for it, balls to the wall, full speed ahead. I like to think that now, I wouldn’t necessarily say enjoy taking risks, but I don’t turn away at the sight of them. I am more courageous and willing to try new things go out of my comfort zone a bit. Like I always say (actually, I just kind of made this up but from now on I am totally saying it), you never know how strong a rubber band is until you stretch it.

But it’s not just about taking risks. Sure, taking risks can be a great thing and a wonderful way to overcome fear, but it isn’t the only alternative to being free from it. If you ask me, freeing ourselves from these fears, these anxieties and worries, is one of the most basic steps we must take in order to just…live. And live fully and completely.

One way that I have found to help me overcome these fears, especially in a world where there seems to be a reason to be afraid around every corner, is through God. He has given me the strength and hope and faith that things will be okay. That I don’t have to be alone in my fight. That by defining his love through my actions and thoughts, it is defining a life of greatness. I have been through  many things in my short 24 years of life, have trudged up many hills, stumbled over many road blocks and crossed over many raging rivers, and you know what? It wasn’t easy. But with each challenge, with each fight, I have overcome and I have gotten stronger. That to me, it the exact opposite of fear. Franklin D. Roosevelt once famously said,” The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franky, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So the next time fear takes you for a ride, open your eyes, put your hands up, and show it that you are not afraid. Life is full of rollercoasters, loop-D-Loops and twists and turns. All you have to remember is that with the big man upstairs in control, you have nothing to be afraid of…except for maybe those darned spiders…and Justin Beiber.

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Question of the day: What is something you are afraid of?

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