Saturday, October 8, 2016

what i know at 27.

Don't make your career the thing about you. Make joy the thing about you. Or a sense of humor. Or optimism. But not your career.

Try to remember that everyone is going through something that feels hard and a little bit hopeless. Show compassion for others and also for yourself.

Give yourself permission to let things go. Forgive yourself. Move on. (This is hard. Start really small.)

You will begin to notice lines (re: wrinkles) forming between your eyebrows and you'll spend too much time examining those lines in the mirror. Stop. Be more interesting than that.

Make the bed most days, but don't make it every now and then, too.

Find joy in small things. File those small things away and save them for a moment when you really need them* (*middle of winter, very cold and wet, dark at 4:30 PM).

Choose kindness. There are a number of ways to respond to situations and people. The kind way is the best way. Every time.

An expert will come to your house to help your dog with his separation anxiety and tell you that dogs don't have a sense of self or think human thoughts or feel certain emotions. Recognize that while this is "true," it's actually not true. Talk to your dog anyway and know that out of all the dogs in the universe, he is the one single dog that actually understands.

When you feel a little bit sad about the state of the world, remember that flowers bloom through cracks in the sidewalk without any help from anyone.

At one point in your life, 27 seemed like an age where you might have lots of things figured out. Realize that "having things figured out" is an illusion that was mostly created to make you feel bad. You are a human being with lots to give. That is enough.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

about being brave.

Sometimes, I'm not that brave. A lot of the time, actually. I like to dwell in the comfort zone. It's a good place to be, but it doesn't really take you anywhere. I always feel really good about being brave, but not until it's after the fact. Leading up to the moment where I need to be brave, I'm pretty much terrified. Then, when I'm going through it, I'm like, "Oh yeah, this is as hard as I remember it being!" When it's done, I always feel proud of myself and that's when I can recognize the importance of bravery.

Truth is, nothing very revolutionary comes from moments or periods of non-bravery. And sometimes that's okay. There is a time to sit back and enjoy your life, but there are other times where an act of bravery is required. In those times, we are tested. Sometimes I fail the test. Or postpone it. Sometimes I know I need to be brave and I put it on the back burner for several months. Sometimes I need to be brave and I just do it. It takes all kinds of bravery to shape a life.

I never learned to do a cartwheel. I do not ride roller coasters. Walking past dark makes me incredibly anxious. Lugging something very heavy down a long corridor makes me think I'm going to damage my back. I'm not talking about being brave in these moments. It's okay that I can't do a cartwheel. I'm fine with disliking roller coasters. I think I'm being safe and smart when I don't walk alone past dark. And being rational about how (not) strong I am and how little it would take to hurt my back makes me think that I'm a responsible person.

I'm talking about being brave when life throws you in front of a crossroads and you have to choose a path. I'm talking about being brave when someone who's really important to you needs help working through something difficult. I'm talking about being brave when listening to your heart and all the excess noise falls away and it's just you and your feelings. I'm talking about being brave when making a decision that might scare you a little bit, but will ultimately help you grow as a person. Those are moments that require true and honest bravery.

In most ways, I am a cautious person. This is a quality that makes me who I am. I like to think through things and mull my options over and really be certain about what I'm doing before I go and do it. And that's okay.

But the real bravery comes from doing the hard work that pulls you from your place of safety and launches you into a scenario that might be incredibly hard, but eventually leads you to something beautiful.

I don't always get it right, but when I do, I feel really good about being brave.

Friday, September 2, 2016

dear love of my life,

We've been you and me for a long time. We've moved in the muggy Florida heat together. We've trekked across the country together. We've perched in the middle of Mt. Hood and watched the sun stretch over the peak together. We've walked down Charleston streets in the muggy midnight together. We've hiked through Cataloochee in 19ยบ mornings together. We've found treasures in middle-of-nowhere antique stores together. We've rescued a dog together. We've planned a wedding together. We've rearranged furniture together. We've made meals together. We've been happy together and sad together and we've changed together. 

I've spent a large part of my life with you by my side. How lucky that is. We all find love in different ways, and it can look different for so many different people. And that's lucky, too. It's lucky that we can all arrive at love in different ways. You and me, we have had the immense fortune of literally growing up together. And we'll continue to grow up together for the rest of our lives.

You have been my very best friend through so many different parts of my life — parts where I felt strong and capable and parts where I felt really small and like I needed some help pulling myself up from whatever struggle I was wallowing in. Parts where I felt sure of myself and ready for the next challenge and parts where I felt confused and terrified. And through all of that, we've counted on one another: to be the voice of reason, to be the one who was strong and willing, to be the one who found the words when the other could not, to be the one who could find clarity in a murky situation, to be the one who reassured, to be the one who comforted, and loved, and cared.

This is what it means to love someone. It means finding the beautiful parts and lifting them up and reveling in them and being so very thankful that those parts exist. It also means staring the ugly parts in the face and claiming them and loving those and being so very thankful that those parts also exist. It means recognizing that both beautiful and ugly are necessary to make a human being whole. And I am so grateful to love the whole you because I wouldn't be the whole me without the whole you.

I love you more today than I ever thought I could. More than the teenage girl who found the daisies on her doorstep. More than the 22-year-old who found post-it notes littered around the apartment after you left for a two-month residency in Montana. More than the 23-year-old who stood and said the vows that so many other beautiful people have said long before we said them. And I will love you more tomorrow and the day after that and forever and ever after that because that's what it means to find the love of your life. Thanks for being mine.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

reclaiming this space.

I'm sitting in our studio apartment next to a sleepy dog, box fan shoved into an open window, 6 o'clock and no sign that the sun will go down anytime soon. It's a peaceful scene. I've been working on my intentional breathing, which sounds absolutely bizarre and over-the-top pretentious, but is actually incredibly helpful. My physical therapist described my intentional breathing practice like this: first, check in with all corners of your body (especially the achy ones); try and send your breath to those achy places; inhale deeeeeeply through the nose, and then produce an audible, strong exhale through the mouth. Repeat that as many times as you can muster. For me, that's about 10 times and then I'm bored.

I've tried to write this very blog post so many times. What do you write in a little white box that hasn't been touched in months? How do you unpack what that silence has meant while still keeping the personal parts of that silence to yourself? Well, for one thing, you just start writing and see what comes of it.

In many ways, I haven't known what to do with this space. There was a time when I wanted nothing more than for this little blog to take off and become a career. I posted the beautiful pictures, wrote very few words, and talked about pleasant, unremarkable things. This is what I saw other successful bloggers doing. They all said you couldn't have a "career blog" without pictures. Every post needed pictures. Readers would stop reading if the content wasn't saturated with pictures. Dutifully, I took my camera everywhere -- took close up pictures of random things, blurring out the background. It was fun, until it wasn't.

Truth is, I'm a writer. It's the written word that's always interested me. That's where I feel compelled creatively. That's the part I want to push into and explore. I recently listened to Amy Poehler's book and there were about one million pieces that stuck with me (Side Note: I think every woman should read/hear her chapter about your inner demon. That was completely illuminating to me. Not illuminating because I haven't dealt with an inner demon, but illuminating because I've never had anyone quite so accurately put words to that particular struggle.), but one thing I really latched onto was a part where she spoke about how fortunate she is that her career and passion overlap seamlessly and how that isn't the case for everyone. That potential overlap is a great joy and a stroke of luck, but it isn't always a given. You can love and enjoy and even be passionate about your career, and still your deep, deep creative passion can lay elsewhere. And for me that passion is writing. It's the one thing I've always come back to over and over again. It's the way I can best express myself and share the innermost workings of my brain.

So I'm gonna write. And if no one else reads it, then it will be for me.

I put a lot of pressure on myself for things to be just so. I've got a lot of thoughts and feelings about how my life should look, and if it doesn't look just like that just when I think it should, then I am immediately going into a tailspin. An exhausting way to live, I think. And it's not like I can just will myself to walk away from that way of thinking on a random Tuesday evening, but I can be intentional about trying to really just be happy (and sometimes unhappy [that's okay, too!]) in the way my life looks right now.

What does that mean currently? Well, it means my husband is on the floor trying to clean out our portable air conditioning. It means I'm worrying about our dog and his separation anxiety, which has recently manifested itself as a loud, excessive bark-howl hybrid that disrupts our neighbors. It means I'm thinking about the giant share of CSA veggies we just got and how we'll manage to put ANOTHER summer squash to good use. It also means that I don't have to share every! single! thing! about my life in this space. Ha! What a revelation.

It means that I'm reclaiming this space, and it might look a lot like a rambling essay (such as this one) without much of a common thread because at the end of the day, if I use this space to flex my creative passion then I am using this space for good. And it will be a bright, warm, happy space simply because it's housing thoughts that I felt were worth sharing at some moment in my life. Love, love, love. Be back soon. (Thanks for reading. Mean it. Xoxoxoxo.)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

the year of fun.

Jeffrey and I moved to Portland in the dead of summer. I remember standing in my parents' front yard, saying goodbye to my in-laws and my mom (my dad took the cross country trip with us, bless him) in the sweltering Florida heat. I've never minded the heat, although my husband would say otherwise. He says that I've complained about it countless times, and perhaps I have, so I guess you could say that I've generally never minded the heat. When we moved to Portland, the heat was oppressive and there was no escaping it. Our house doesn't have air. I remember laying in bed with little more than a sheet, cursing the fact that I couldn't sleep with the weight of a comforter. The temperature on our thermostat (which we have for heat only), rose up and up and up, and I couldn't believe how hot is was.

2015 was a challenging year for me. Dealing with the difficulty and hardship that comes with a move across the country was unexpected and knocked the wind out of me for several months. There's also the challenge of taking on a new job and trying to fit in with a new place and new people. There's the longing for the school I left behind, the familiarity of the people and the location of simple things like the copy machine. Change isn't bad, it's just different. I lost the physical closeness of friends and family and found it overwhelmingly hard to make new bonds and form new relationships.

I spent a lot of time dwelling in that lost and sad place. It was a cycle of wake up, feel sorry for myself, go to work, feel sorry for myself, repeat. It was a cycle I didn't enjoy, but from which I couldn't break away. It was suffocating and terrible. As someone who has experienced little loss in her life, I was shocked by how deeply I grieved a loss of place.

Eventually, it wasn't hot anymore. In fact, it became unbelievably cold. Both Jeffrey and I remarked over the fact that we didn't experience many "open window" days here. It was really, really hot and then it was really, really cold. The sun started going down at 4 in the afternoon. At first, I found myself in a mess of emotions. Blue ones. About two weeks into the dark and cold winter, the fog in my mind lifted. I have no idea why or how. I'd like to believe that it was because I willed it away. It's probably much more likely that something else (something like divine intervention) shooed it into oblivion. Either way, I was grateful.

All this to say that my word for 2016 is fun. Jeffrey and I explored Portland for our honeymoon almost three years ago. We were enamored by its richness and fullness — the city felt alive and bursting with energy. I remember feeling so much love for this city, even though I had hardly spent any time here. In the midst of moving and dealing with big emotions, I forgot to enjoy this city again. I forgot to love it the way I had when we visited here, newlyweds with stars in our eyes. We're still newlyweds and we still have stars in our eyes. I want to squeeze the joy out of this place, experience my life instead of watching it pass me by. There is a time to be sad, but there is also a time to take back happiness, to feel proud of myself for making leaps and embracing change and reveling in the fact that I can do hard things. So here's to 2016, my year of fun!

(Taking back the fun in my life may or may not include documenting some of that here. Thanks for my small but devoted readership, who continues to visit this space, even when postings are sporadic and wordy and not filled with pictures. You are appreciated! xo)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

on moving across the country.

I moved across the country this summer.

This is something that most people would likely label as uncharacteristic of me.

I was born and raised in Florida, have loved it my entire life, and most of my family still resides there today. I had a great life there — childhood friends, a strong, loving support system, a job I had grown to love, and plenty to do and see all within driving distance.

However, Jeffrey and I have discussed moving across the country for the past several years of our relationship. Something about the fascination with a place and lifestyle different than ours, a window of opportunity in which we are young and relatively carefree, and the desire to stretch ourselves and grow and collect new memories to store away for a lifetime.

I knew it would be hard. In fact, I dreaded how difficult it would be. I imagined myself ripping up my roots that had been planted and harvested and tended with great care. I imagined what it might feel like to live thousands of miles from people who are incredibly important to me. I imagined starting my career over, making new friends, finding new places to frequent on Saturday mornings. I imagined the difficulty of navigating new roads (I am a notoriously terrible navigator). I imagined putting myself out there in ways I had never done before. It was terrifying. And it still is.

The truth is that I am not an adventurous person. For a long time, I masqueraded as someone who was. I loved the idea of being a free spirit. Easy going. Laid back. And in some arenas, I might be. But not in the arena that involves letting go of everything I've ever known in life and trading it in for something completely brand new.

And that's precisely why I had to do this.

If I want to grow and challenge myself and be someone who is brave, then I must do things that terrify me. If I am to stand in front of students I love and care for and tell them to take a giant leap of faith, then I must also take leaps.

If I want to (someday) raise children who take risks and make mistakes and create their own new and unique path, then I must also be willing to do those things. I must also be willing to be bold and to do things that might be a little scary. Might be a little terrifying.

And today when I walked into a teacher orientation filled with a sea of new faces, my heart ached for the comfort of the school I left. When I went shopping and needed a second opinion, I actively missed my mom sitting in the dressing room with me. When I needed to sit with someone and say nothing (but really say everything), I longed for a coffee with my dad. And I will continue to miss these things. I will long for these things forever. And that's how it should be. When someone lives a full, happy life somewhere and decides to leave parts of that life in pursuit of something different, the components of that full, happy life will leave a big impression. I'm better for that impression. Happier for it.

That impression is the only reason I'm able to move across country. That impression is the whisper that tells me I can do this. It's the thing that keeps me moving. It's the confidence to keep going. To take that leap. To be bold and brave and courageous. To step outside my comfortable box and make a new box. To continue a story which deserves to be continued.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

charleston, south carolina.

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walking south of Broad after the entire city was asleep // getting ice cream in the freezing cold // cracking up in way too quiet Black Tap // cookies on the top porch // leon's at 4 in the afternoon for soft serve (with sprinkles) // BBQ in the middle of a crowd // walking the Battery // cupcakes on the side of Sugar // sandwiches on Queen Street sidewalk // window boxes, window boxes, window boxes // chai at St. Alban while it poured // hot biscuits with all the fixins' // sewing shop with all the best, old stuff // endless historical markers and stopping to read all of them // happy, sweet, slow spring break
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