What I learned.

I’m writing this post long after my trip occurred but I am predating it so that it fits snugly at the end of my series.

As soon as I arrived back to work this past week, I got swept away in the day-to-day of a working girl’s life (get your mind out of the gutter). But I did learn something on this trip and I need to record it for my future-self.

I learned that I am a lot more independent and both mentally and physically stronger than I give myself credit for and I learned that there truly is peace and solitude as described in day two.

Through reflection, I think what I’ve been most scared about is becoming too comfortable with being alone; I’ve been single for roughly a year and a half. There have been a couple of dates here and there, I was seeing a guy for about a month or so last fall, and I had some kind of weird FWB thing with a dude but nothing really stuck. Nothing ever really felt “real” so even during those blips, I still felt alone.

I don’t like feeling alone, I don’t like not having a person, but I’ve been okay lately. I had a blast on this trip up the North Shore. I enjoyed the alone time with myself; I enjoy my own company. I slept when I wanted to, I cried when I needed to, I sang at the top of my lungs without judgement. I moseyed and lingered around as long as I felt whenever I felt, wherever I felt. I did relish in the fact not having to appease someone else.

I know that, by nature, I am a people pleaser and I seem to, without a choice, mold my behaviors or moods into whoever I am surrounded by. I really want to change that because I’m slowly finding out that I’m pretty freaking great. But I know that I always think whoever I’m with is better than me, that their ideas are better than me or that their opinions or feelings or frame of mind is more superior than mine. I always let the other person in my life whether it be a friend, a family member or significant other.. I always let their presence be the dominant one.

I am definitly not dominant by nature but through this trip, I realized that I am just as important as the people that I surround myself with and should give myself more credit for that.

I know that this is becoming ramble but I guess to sum it up.. I’m okay for real. I think I’ve said that before in a previous post but I feel it more and more every day. At the beginning of this trip, I was feeling a level of anxiety that I had never felt before. I was too stressed to think, too busy to plan, and I completely changed my trip the day before I was supposed to leave which is so unlike me. But maybe I’m not the same “me” anymore. A lot has changed.

Now a week+ after this trip, I’m not feeling that same level of anxiety, I’m feeling more peaceful. I had a really really great time, by myself.

With that being said. I am still so afraid that I will be alone for a long long time and a part of me is sad that I don’t have anyone to share memories with on this trip but it’s okay.

I don’t want to rush into finding a relationship, I want it to find me. I don’t need to have a warm body to feel whole. I might want one, but I would rather wait until it’s the right one than to just fill a space in my bed. So, with that being said, this is where I leave you: If you’re reading this or if my future self is, you’re badass and so flipping cool already. I wish you could see what others do. You’re getting to where you need to be in this world and you won’t be alone forever, if that’s your fear. Having a fulfilling life alone will make you a better person when that one awesome dude comes along. You’ll have so much more to offer then than you do now. Love this time, girl.

Day 5+6+7: Backyard fireworks and chill.

Happy belated birthday, ‘Merica! Ugh, I hate myself for just saying that. I cringe whenever I see that slang. Not because I’m super patriotic but because it’s annoying and now, by default, I’m annoying. Great.

Today’s post will be shortish because I’ve actually been home now for a few days so my “adventures” are more locally sourced and have been filled with family and the love they exude.

Thursday was the fourth of July, if you didn’t gather that in ‘graph one. I bought a hot dog from a food stand because I don’t think you’re really embracing your birth right if you don’t celebrate by indulging in an American staple. Right?

My brother, Nick, and his now-fiance (newly engaged cuties!) invited me over for some backyard fireworks and cocktails with my cousins at some random persons house. One of my cousins is house-sitting thus the randomness. The bottle rockets and air troopers didn’t last too long but they were fun to watch. They’d been there a bit longer than me but we ended up heading out to catch some real magic in the sky at MSUM in Moorhead.

A very interestingly assembled band called Post Traumatic Funk serenaded the crowd of people on the bleachers facing the football field until dusk. The place was packed and it was my first time celebrating the 4th there. My best memories during this holiday fall in a little place up north called Warroad. It’ll always be nostalgic for me but I can see this presentation becoming a new tradition. The ‘works were beautiful tonight. 🙌

Friday, Katie and I went to get our nails done for the first time. I have had them done in the past, circa prom 2008 and square tips, but we’re sophisticated women now and I love them! I need to check out my budget but I hope this can become a regular thing. I feel so much more feminine with my nails done and shaped nicely. Goodbye pudge sausage fingers, hello cute lady nails!

Today, my youngest brother, Logan, his daughter (my best friend and niece), Emma, and my mom came to visit. We played at the park, grabbed lunch, and visited Nick. ‘Twas a beautiful day and the perfect way to “end” a vacation.

I’ll share more sap and love in my WIL post tomorrow.

Day 4: A bond between cousins.

This one will likely be short. But sometimes I find myself in the middle of a long story long situation so who really knows..

I made my way back down the shore last night, settling back in Duluth where it all began. I stayed at a different hotel tonight. It was right within the harbor. A great place to be especially for those exploring.

I slept in as long as my body would let me which was approximately 10:40. Good thing too because checkout was at 11:00. My body is sore. A pale, redheaded woman from northern MN where the sun doesn’t always shine took a beating from the yellow dude in the sky yesterday. The woman is me. (Why did that sound more clever in my head then when I re-read it just now?)

I lathered myself up in Bath & Body Works finest and made my way across the state, heading west. I did make a pit stop though, in Moose Lake State Park. This is where I initially intended on hanging out for the week with my aunt and her family pre-mini-mental-breakdown. We checked out the Agate and Geological Center. It’s in the same building you’d go into if you needed to get yourself a permit.

After that, we went back to their campsite and visited for a bit. I’m losing track of time so I’d maybe say I stayed an hour or so. My cousin has two little ones; twins. They are as cute as buttons could be if buttons were actually cute. How did that cliché come about anyway?

My oldest cousin needed a ride back to Fargo so she hitched a ride with me; it was just the two of us. She’s 22, I’m 29. There was quite the gap there when we were were kids. Now that we’re both adults, it’s interesting to see how my cousin-ship’s are beginning to actually form. I think both of us were nervous about how we’d fill up four and a half hours of driving time. Honestly, we hadn’t been in each others presence for more than an hour at a time over probably a decade span. But, we talked about all the things. We talked about her kids and the family I wish I had. We talked about the dudes in her life and the dudes that passed through mine. We talked about our struggles whether it be mental illness, finances, or relationships with family members. It was good and we connected on a level that I don’t quite know how to put in to words.

She’s had a tough go at life, especially recently. And I just want to hug the pain she’s endured out of her so she can be okay and be happy. She’ll get there, but it’ll take a lot of work and a lot of time.

I arrived home around dinner time and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with my sweet kittens; Bodhi and Agnes.

Life is good.

Day 3: Minnesota is my favorite color.

This 4:50 a.m. sunrise gives me life. I left the screen door to the patio open last night in the cute little hotel I stayed in so I could fall asleep to Lake Superiors waves and wake up to the chirps of Tofte’s birds. If you ever find yourself in the area, Cliff Dweller Hotel on Lake Superior is top notch rustic, serene, and locally owned by the sweetest people.

Gondala Ride @ Lutsen Mountains. This was the coolest thing ever. I wish I could have just rode back and forth all day. It was so quiet. So full of peace. So breathtaking.

I kept singing ‘Chateau’ by @bear in my head while I was visiting Lutsen today all to find out this was a chalet and not a chateau. Oh well, both are fancier than I’ll ever be. BUT THAT VIEW looking over Lake Superior THO! Is this real life?

The water is so crystal clear in Grand Marais. This has been one of my favorite areas to explore since this trip started. I hiked up through Artists Point (where the trees are) and then back behind these views to the Lighthouse. I found myself hopping from rocky surface to rocky surface finally settling at an edge point and reading a book for a couple hours on one of the many glacial ice drag remnants in this area. My SPF may have let me down but I’m so glad to have sat in such quiet for that time undisturbed by busyness and surrounded by nature.

To close this post.. I have zero words; hats off to you, Grand Marais, Minn. If you know me, AT ALL, you’ll know that water gives me life, that sailboats and lighthouses are my dream homes, and that Minnesota is my favorite color. You’re welcome for this visual experience. P.S. I hope that my future husband is cool with moving here because it’s a deal breaker if he’s not.


This is as far north as I go. I’ll be slowly but surely making my way home tomorrow with adventures along the way, I hope. I don’t know what the rest of my vacation looks like but I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity and means to do this. I can honestly say, I don’t know how I would have survived if I hadn’t.

Day 2: Peace in solitude.

Today’s post and I think those that follow for the rest of the trip will be a bit differnt then what you’re used to. I’m focussing on taking it all in and don’t want to get sucked into my laptop at the end of the day. I’d love to spill out all of the feelings for every single thing I’ve gone through today but this will have to do for now. Plus, I’m exhausted but the good exhausted. Finally.


This was the first of many trails and trials today at Gooseberry Falls and beyond. Little did I know, my night would end with a 300 steep step hike three state parks away.

Gooseberry Falls, Middle and Upper Falls. This is only my second time to Gooseberry but I managed to make my way to the Upper Falls for the first time today and all the way down to the Lower Falls. The Middle Falls, however, is by far my favorite. And the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

I chose the North Shore for my first solo trip because I needed nature and sunshine; I needed to clear my mind of the day to day to press pause and to breathe. I needed quiet and peace. An opportunity to be in alone on purpose. To be by water is so healing and sunrises take my breath away. Hiking surrounded by nothing but the wind and leaves touching my skin allows me to find whatever it is I’m looking for. I’m smiling in this photo because I literally couldn’t stop when I reached the Falls but my trip so far has been filled with a lot of soul searching and meaningful podcasts; crying while listening to a playlist I put together to purposefully make me feel things I didn’t want to feel. I know I add to the #perfectinstalife tragedy but it’s not perfect. We’re all broken in one way or another. I just really love everything I see and I want to share the beautiful things I come across with you all. I hope to make a positive influence on someone in the world one day and the only way I can think to do so is to encourage people to get out there and live; stop waiting for everyone to be ready. If I’m worth it, so are you. 💙

View of Split Rock Lighthouse just north of Pebble Beach on a rocky trail I found to get a closer look. Also, a view of my booty. Three days ago, I’d have never posted a full body shot (even from behind) but fuck it, I’m working on that #BoPo life today. 👌😌

Zen Cairn. Meditating without an app prompting me what to do has been nearly impossible but I’ve wanted to try this practice for a long time. It was only when I stopped thinking about it and finally quieted my mind that I could stack these seven rocks. The bottom one is shaped like a heart; which I found fitting as I really do think that’s the foundation of everything in life.

A ‘moderate to difficult trail’ had me almost saying “nope” at Tettegouche but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do just as much as anyone else regardless of my size. 300 steps down didn’t seem too bad but back up was a feat. I survived and I felt like a badass doing so being pushed by myself.


I hope you still enjoyed this post even though it wasn’t filled with my usual amount of word vomit. Hell, maybe you liked it more.

Day 1: You can smell the gunfire but you can sleep soundly.

In true “is this my life now?” fashion, I didn’t start packing until I woke up this morning. And I didn’t wake up until 9:00 a.m. I’m officially 1+ days beyond my original departure date and time. To top it off, I really didn’t have a set in stone plan to begin with. SO. NOT. LIKE. ME.

Initially, I was due to depart yesterday morning to go camping with my aunt and her family. Due to a few recent events and maybe a minor breakdown or two, I decided I needed to embark on an adventure all on my own. No people, no distractions. For a long time, I’ve trusted that I’m as adaptable as origami but I’m really not; there’s always a but.

I’m accommodating to everyone around me on the outside but I’m not breathing on the inside. I’m often worrying about every action I take wondering if that’s the last one before a major setback; the good ol’ take one step forward and three steps back is always on my mind. I’m delighted for a win, some might even dare say elated; but I’m always waiting for a loss.

While that might not make sense as to why I needed to scratch my non-plans to re-plan a new non-plan; it does to me. I need to hit reset.

So, I found my way to Duluth early this afternoon. I don’t know what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be going next. If you know me even a little bit, you know that’s not a “me” thing to do. I’ve been off balance for well over a year now falling further and further away from my organized, sort of spazy nature of structure and am “winging it” far more often then I feel comfortable with. Some of you might think I’m finally learning how to chill out. Quite the opposite, my friends. I don’t function well like this but I’ve been unable to just sit and scream into a pillow. #toomanyfeels

My solution to feeling like my brain is on fire was to just leave. I’m worried to have let my aunt down by not joining her trip. I’m worried I’ll regret not partaking in bonfire s’mores and solidifying bonds with my cousins. I’m worried that I’m going to spend too much money on this spur of the moment “journey.” And most of all, I’m worried that I will wonder around and not find whatever it is I’m looking for. But I know I need to do it. I need to try to find peace in solitude.

I’m also considering this a trial run solo trip before this fall when I plan to hit up Europe alone. Something I’ve actually been too chicken shit to begin planning. As you’ll find by the start of my adventure below, I’m not nearly as confident or adventurous as I pretend to be. Fake it ’til you make it, ya’ll.


The scariest part of the day was entering Grandmas Bar & Saloon in Duluth. I’ve been here a handful of times in the past but never alone. I first walked around the entire building trying to talk myself into going in. I debated walking back over the bridge to my hotel and jumping in the car to grab some Culver’s so I wouldn’t have to be that loser that eats alone in public. Once I talked myself into going inside a sit down restaurant all by my lonesome, I weirdly avoided eye contact with the host like some kind of thief. But that didn’t work because in true hostess fashion, she kindly said “Table for 1?”

Once I got over the fact that I was in a booth made for one, I ordered myself a $30 dinner like the queen I am. I’ve never done this and I don’t actually think I’m a queen but I thought that if I could talk myself into overcoming fear number 728, I could treat myself to a walleye dinner and a chocolate shake.

I think a common theme on this trip will be spurts of ‘scared dog with a tail between her legs’ and a ‘girl channeling Lizzo at the BET Awards last week.’ Clearly.

I’ll share some photos at the end of this post along the lake-walk at Canal Park. It was a pleasantly beautiful day. I think it maybe hit 75 degrees and with the lake breeze, it was poifect. #shipsonshipsonships today.

The best part of the day, however, was when I decided to head back to the hotel. It overlooks the harbor in Duluth and has a handful of outside seating options. I sat down, turned on some music, and closed my eyes for a bit. Soon after, a couple of older guys decided to join; getting ready to watch the sunset, I presumed.

PSA: I don’t know how to socialize. I hate being a part of the weather conversations everyone with nothing to say talk about and am really not a fan of small talk. Can we all just start talking about real things, plz? Even with that, I’m still awkward AF with people sometimes. So, outside of saying “hello,” I didn’t want to be weird or rude or whatever so I continued to do my own thing while these dudes visited.

But, these men were interesting and I ended up creepily inserting myself into the conversation. It probably wasn’t that creepy but there is a designated amount of time where it’s not weird to join in on a strangers convo. I exceeded that time limit by like, a lot.

The one dude is from Minneapolis and as drunk as a skunk. I think he asked me the same question 5 times before I started changing my answer. The other man, probably in his mid-60’s was fascinating. His name is Mats and he’s from Stockholm, Sweden but now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s a veterinarian and owns an equine clinic down there. Mats, who I can only assume was a player back in his day, shared with us that he’s become a father at least once in every single decade since the 70’s. Yes, re-read that as many times as you want. His oldest is about to be 46 and his youngest just turned 9. [insert wide-eyed emoji here].

Not only that, but because of his equine vet biz, he was commissioned to live in Qatar for 3 years to help train and care for horses in the middle east. I’m the worst person to know what’s going on in the middle east so I was surprised to hear that Qatar is one of the most peaceful places in the world, according to this guy. He said “you can smell the gunfire but you can sleep soundly.” What?

Anyway, he was traveling with his three youngest kids. One lives in Florida, one in Minnesota and the other in Norway. He’s both trying to make up for lost time being away for work for so long and to educate his children via travel because he believes that by traveling at a young age, you can rip down the prejudices in the world by exposing yourself to all sorts of cultures. [now inserting a praise Jesus emoji, a clapping hands emoji, and a YAS QUEEN dancing emoji].


There is so much more to the stories that I heard tonight but that is all for now. While the last few days had been emotionally draining, I’m starting to feel better. I expect I’ll find more hurdles to cross in the next few days but I hope I start to feel more and more comfortable with who I am and what I have to offer. Had I not decided to walk into that restaurant alone or visit with a couple of fellow travelers, I’d never had been exposed to the stories I heard tonight while watching the sun set over Duluth.

 

Pre-Trip Feels

Well, I’m writing to you on what was supposed to be DAY 1 of another vaca. My mind is mush, guys. And I cannot deal. I haven’t really dove into what I’m about to but after some reflection, I’m starting to feel like this is the only way to really work through whatever is happening. Anxiety much?

To begin, I should start by telling you what my original sort of plan was. I was going to join my aunt and her family on a camping trip for a good chunk of this next week. They are staying at Moose Lake State Park near the Duluth area in Minnesota. I’ve been excited about it since she first mentioned it months ago and I was elated that she was cool with me tagging along.


Okay, here we go. Sorry to those of you who come across this. I don’t know if I’ll both proofing this or taking a second look because #feels and #notactuallyokay

My entire life, or as long as I can remember at least, I have always been a planner. I function best when everything is well organized. To the point that the first handful of trips I went on included a full itinerary. We’re talking a binder full of stuff down to the last minute of things to do. A FRICKING BINDER (and yes, I still have them all). Before your eyes get too big, no, I do not get bent when things don’t go as planned. Or I don’t think I do. My itineraries usually include alternates or as I like to call it, “planned spontaneity.” I typically have the general itinerary and then options if that doesn’t work out and even more options if plans A, B, and C go awry. It works. It keeps my nervous brain calm and those traveling with me plenty of options if they aren’t into whatever was originally planned.

However.

I have not been able to “rest” my mind for over a year. Seriously. The last trip that I planned to a degree where I felt good and comfortable was my Staycation in early 2018 with my niece Emma. Sure, I organized the F out of my first European adventure last fall but it was all done with an overly chaotic mind. Not only had my life fallen apart less then a year prior but things at work started changing rapidly at the same time. All of my energy was moved towards keeping my emotions in check when outside of my apartment and making sure I could keep my shit together at work so I could live in that apartment. I wanted to schedule time for a mental breakdown but there was no time for one so as they say and I’m sure my dad would cringe at; I kept on truckin’.

This is just one small piece in my universe but being organized and on top of it all really drove a big piece of me. So much so that I didn’t realize how important it was to me functioning until I couldn’t do it anymore. I’d been continually sinking further and further away from who I felt I was comfortable with as a person.

What does that have to do with going camping in Minnesota?

Well, we’ll start with the first of three breakdowns I had this week. Twitter was the empty hole of nothing that got a ‘Sheldon Cooper dry heaving into a bag’ meme first. I was having a mini-panic attack that I was up to my eyeballs in work so much so that I had lists of lists that I had to still make. That’s something else I haven’t yet mentioned. Lists are my zen. I think I counted that I had a list of 7 lists to do by Thursday afternoon with less than 48 hours to put them together and follow through on every single item. Something that was not going to happen.

To top it off, my dad was coming to town and while I love him dearly and hope his feelings don’t get hurt if he reads this, I felt like I would physically breakdown if I had to also carve out time to hang with my dad. And he doesn’t know what to do if I cry.

I needed this vacation, trip, whatever. I needed to pause and press reset on my life. Ireland was wonderful but I didn’t make time to enjoy the quiet. Same with Arizona. It was life changingly beautiful but I didn’t give my mind a moment to really rest. I think a part of me wants to keep going because the last time that I let myself sit and “feel,” I couldn’t stop feeling. It’s too painful.

Breakdown number two happened when I emailed my mom that same day awhile later. I think I basically explained the same thing to her. I needed someone to tell me to calm down. My mom, bless her soul, isn’t the most empathetic person you’ll ever cross. That might be a tie between me and my youngest brother; I fear that our hears were almost made to be broken. But she is my voice of reason. She is the one that reminds me to breathe and to let go. Not always something that I want to hear but often something that I need to hear.

Before I dive into the last marathon of this post, I do want to clarify that I know and acknowledge that this whole thing is in regards to an upcoming vacation. I’m not writing this post as a “poor me; white privileged woman going on vaca” pity party. This is, and I hope it’s received as such, me trying to take control of my mental health; something that I have a hard time acknowledging is anything less than perfectly content. Because I know I have a good life filled with good people. While one part of my mind is smart enough to tackle depression and anxiety, the other part of my mind is like “yeah right, prove it.” If you see this post as anything other than that, there’s a back button in the top left of your screen on whatever device you’re reading this on.

Okay, on with the ramble.

Still Thursday, a new turn of events. To spare the details being forever embedded in the internet-verse, I am electing to withhold explaining the next day and a half or so for privacy reasons because they do not involve me directly but rather; a friend. I will share that I was up for the better part of 40 hours helping this friend with a crisis; maybe a cat nap in there. This put a super halt, if that’s a thing, on any anxiety or stress I was experiencing about this upcoming trip. Not having it planned out or knowing what I was going to be doing for the next week wasn’t a concern during this period. It’s like my brain said “nope, time to worry about this other thing.” And that’s what I did.

When I finally fell into my bed on Friday night around 10:30 p.m. nearly 40 hours after I pulled myself out of it.. my body, my mind, my heart, all of it; broke down. I think I texted my mom asking if she was still up. She was but I couldn’t bring myself to call her. All of the worry I had been holding on to the last day or so came to the surface. I hyper-analyzed all of the interactions I had the last two days and couldn’t make sense of if they were good or bad. All of the emo-kid feels of needing to write those 7 lists were back at it again. The only thing I could do was lay there and cry. I couldn’t move, I felt like I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t call my mom. I couldn’t ask for help. The only thing I felt like I needed was a hug and there were none to be given.

What is wrong with me?

I trust that I’m as adaptable as origami but there’s always a but. Accommodating on the outside but not breathing on the inside; delighted by a win but waiting for a loss. I am fine. I am put together. I am strong. But. I am crying. I am messy. I am weak.


So, I’m not going camping with my aunts family at Moose Lake State Park in Minnesota. I need to do something on my own away from the noise. I need to find peace in solitude and allow my mind and body time to rest. Actually rest. I am okay, I really am. I’m okay with being alone now, I used to hate the empty spot in my bed. I’m okay with having a small circle of people in my life. I used to worry about having enough friends. I’m okay with trying new things. I used to be fearful of going to lunch alone. But I need to be okay for real. I need to tap into that last piece that allows me to bottle everything up for months and months all to fall apart when I don’t have time to.

Stay tuned.