2020: A Year in Review

Every year, I look back at the year prior usually in the form of photos, but I journal too. I look back to review the life I lived, how I lived it, and who I lived it with. I look back to see if I’ve found my “why” yet in life, to see if I provided any type of positive influence on others. I look back to smile and to reminisce; to find the good in the bad and to see how I can use the old year as a stepping point for an even better one to come.

This type of post is typically reserved for my own self-reflection purposes but I usually like to share it in hopes to inspire someone else to think big. Anything in life no matter how great or small, regardless of a pandemic or not is available to you if you determine that your worth is great enough. It might not be by the way of luxurious travel accommodations amidst a global shutdown but we are all entirely capable of giving it our best; of overcoming even the greatest of misfortunes we’ve faced regardless of creed, country, family, or otherwise.

I’ve struggled putting this years post together because I don’t know what the appropriate balance is between acknowledging the crappy parts about the year and the good. Because both were there and I’m sure most could argue that there was more negative than positive but I really hate looking at life that way so I’m going to challenge it. I’ve read the posts people have shared the last few days condemning 2020 and giving it a royal unicorn fist (a term I learned just yesterday, ha!). The ratio of good to bad is so low, that the few people I did see who focused on the blessings of last year can be counted on only four fingers.

I’ve followed along throughout the year not knowing how to navigate this world in the most politically correct way, as a privileged white woman not wanting to offend friends or peers. Do this, you’re wrong. Do that, you’re wrong. I know I’m not the only one that felt like it was easier to stay quiet not because we didn’t care but because it seemed like there were more people interested in being malicious than joining hands.

I’m critically aware that the pain I’ve personally experienced in 2020 is nothing in comparison to the lives lost to COVID, to their families; to brutality and injustice people have been subjected to, and to heartache. Because of that, I’m not sure I even feel qualified to write about anything. But, I’m going to.

This last year, I learned a lot about the people around me, near and far. I learned a lot about myself. I wondered more times than I can count how unusual it is to feel nothing while everyone around me is feeling something. As a self-proclaimed empath, I found myself feeling little empathy for certain situations that occurred throughout the year. This was usually on a much more grand scale than in my own life but I found myself analyzing the bigger picture more often than not; considering all the circumstances for something to be and watching how the communities I’m involved in, the country, and the world.. reacted. While that happened, I sat still, reactionless. As if a statue, emotionless to it all because to me, no one was listening to one another and it all seemed so pointless.

The masks (at first) seemed pointless. The protests, the destruction. Pointless. The election, omg the election. Point. Less. The isolating “safety” and the drama of it all seemed so pointless. It still does. In 2020, not only did a worldwide pandemic wreak havoc across the globe but millions of people acted out the movie Idiocracy as if it were a challenge between terrorizing entire cities and destroying their communities to causing a scene when the employees at a grocery store only ask you to put on a mask because it’s their job not because they are about you.

I found myself in a deep social media hole, watching friendships literally dissipate over two old dudes who both have questionable morals. Guess what, most of us do too if we decide to take a step back and really check out our own lives instead of everyone else’s. I followed along on more GoFundMe and CaringBridge sites than I ever thought possible in 2020. And I cried a lot. I was reminded that even though I felt so stupidly alone, that we are in this together, apart.

With that being said, there’s no smooth segue to transition to 2020 from my point of view. So, without further ado and because I am a lover of lists, here are TWENTY-ish notable somethings from my 2020. Note, that this isn’t a “top 20” highlight real of all the good things. While most of these are positives, my year was full of learning experiences, affliction, and growth too.

  • Faith: Oh hey, God. It’s me. Faith has always played some sort of role in my life to varying degrees. The last few years I’ve really found a good community of people and in 2020, I did everything I could to maintain and build an even deeper relationship with God. The year started out with a goal to read the entire Bible in 2020. I made it 128 straight days of consistent reading before it began to feel like a chore and I didn’t want God to feel like a chore so I shifted my thinking. This year, I was fortunate enough to join IF:Gathering with like-minded women around the country, I led a Launch table pre-Covid and a virtual Grow Group at the height of the pandemic. I was invited to be a part of a BEMA study group which has seriously opened up so much in terms of understanding scripture, I’ve explored online churches from around the country, studied world religions, and I’ve learned to truly rely and trust in both God’s plan and His timing.
  • Hawaii: 2020 marked year five of mother/daughter trips and we found ourselves in Hawaii this year! We even invited my dad along to pre-celebrate becoming an old man (60, holy smokes)! I learned how to snorkel, that my dad and I are not suitable travel companions, and grew to appreciate the island life in a way I didn’t expect. Read about it here!
  • Emmalita: Emma turned F O U R this year, graduated preschool like a boss, jumped on the biggest of trampolines, decorated pumpkins for Halloween, baked birthday cupcakes, had awesome auntie/Emma sleepovers, and taught us all so much about feelings and compassion for others.
  • All the Loves: My middle brother got married and so did a few really incredible people in my life. Babies were born and engagements were announced! I know the events of the year didn’t pan out how everyone had hoped and many weddings or showers were postponed but love is love and still worth celebrating!
  • Isolation + Depression: Read about it here because I don’t want to trigger my lil’ snowflake self rn.
  • Montana: I dared to leave my dark and dingy apartment and venture off alone in search of mountains, fresh air, and glacier water this summer. I determined that mental health was just as important, if not more, than physical heath so I made the controversial choice to travel in a pandemic. I’m a lazy bones so I haven’t totally transcribed my journal entries (because there is no reception in the mountains, who knew?) but part of that series is up, the rest should be by weeks end!
  • Navy Bean: This year, I found myself spending a bit more time with one of my favorite girl cousins, Navy. The year started off with a hot cocoa crawl and ended with a haunting in the woods of Leonard, ND; long nails, dinner, lots of laughing, and tubing were sprinkled in between. I hope to find ways to make even more memories in the new year with her.
  • Kittens: Bodhi got a sick lion haircut this year after watching Tiger King and Aggie dared to let another human pet her this year so I’d say between that and their mom working from home, they’ve had a pretty fabulous time.
  • Netflix + Chill: I wish the streaming services had an end-of-year wrap up like Spotify does. Who wants to swap stories on who can binge watch something for the longest period of time? Because, I’d win. P.S. This summer, I video chatted with my brother and his now-wife to watch a show together just to feel less alone. Is that weird?
  • Art Therapy: In an attempt to pull myself out of a late-spring situational depresh due all the isolation fun, I dove head first into projects with no rhyme or reason. I taught myself how to embroider, tried my hand at keeping succulents alive for the entire summer, started to learn Italian, made wedding bouquets with my SIL, and painted a cute little pumpkin to look exactly like the vintage camper I don’t have but definitely need. Art, in any form, is good for the soul.
  • Tik Tok: Whether you’ve found yourself on the darkside yet or are still watching the best videos on Facebook two weeks later, I think we can all agree that TT has taught us more in the last 9 months than any of us learned in primary school
  • Boss Lady: In 2020, I worked on a really big entrepreneurial idea and put pen to paper to take the steps into making it a reality. At this point, I’ve read a handful of books, done a buttload of research, and made appointments with business advisers across the region to make my dream become a reality. I cannot wait to share more as 2021 gets started. And also, I’m really freakin’ scared so #prayersplz
  • Family: My family has been instrumental in being the reason for survival in 2020. After isolating for what seemed like an eternity, I went to my brother Nick’s house and will never forget the hug he gave me or the road trip to the drive-in theater in Warren with him and Katie. For the messages of love Logan has sent me when he can hear the sadness in my voice from 125 miles away or showing up in Fargo because he’s bored. For my mom knowing I’m not okay without me even saying a word and for my dad for just being his sometimes oblivious and always hilarious self. For my aunts and my cousins, and my niece. Family really is everything no matter how cliché that sounds.
  • Mental Health: This takes up a few spaces in my 20-ish list because it’s SO FLIPPIN’ CRUCIAL to address mental health. At the start of 2020, I started therapy because after two years of single-dom, I felt like I still had a lot of work to do on myself. You know the whole “love yourself before others can love you” type of thing. I went for a little bit, then Covid hit. At a time when I should have dug my nails in and stuck with it, I didn’t and instead allowed myself to sink into a deep ugly hole of really crappy feelings. I eventually jumped on the therapy bandwagon again just a couple months ago and have given it 110% to do better, be better, and feel better. I still cry more than I’d like to admit and there are so many days that I feel useless to the people around me in this world but I’m working on that. I’m indulging in self-care via solo pedis, Thursday night face masks, and silencing my phone. I’m writing more on here and working through the traumas of my past. I know the road is long but some of my very favorite places have taken the longest to get to. Please address your mental health if you haven’t yet. Anger, abuse, body shame, sadness; outwardly gregarious but internally broken.. Fine but also, not really that fine, stuck, meh.. Those are all reasons to ask for help and there is absolutely NO shame in doing so. The days of therapy being taboo are behind us, please don’t let an old way of thinking prevent you from finding peace.
  • Physical Health: To round out a really interesting year, I did more for my physical health than any other time in my adult life. I’m pretty sure I know every single crack in the sidewalk within a 2 mile radius of my apartment and I said YES to a 16 week boot-camp program! I’ve been doing a whole lot of snackin’ + slackin’ since that ended and need to push myself to start up again. While I didn’t see much progress in the mirror throughout the year, I gained confidence, strength, and community by making myself a priority.
  • Letters: I wrote so.many.letters this year. In December, I took the challenge to write a letter a day and it’s officially run over into the New Year! #scribblewin But the letter writing began far earlier than that. This spring, I wrote a letter a week to various people for a month or two, I started writing letters to “my future husband” back in September and left notes on post-its along my walks for random people to find in hopes to create unexpected smiles this summer. 10/10 it’s not that weird.
  • Good People: I could dedicate an entire post to the good people in my life and how blessed I feel to be surrounded by them. From co-workers turned friends to check-ins from parishioners at the start of quarantine to gym-mates, and new people with incredible souls that I’ve met only recently.. There is so much good in people if you choose to surround yourself with them. It took me a really long time to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy when it came to inviting others into my life but I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet and grow in community with some really special humans this year!
  • Writing: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, writing has been a huge aspect of figuring out my crap this year. I’ve written in my travel journal, in my prayer journal. I’ve spent time writing poetry and filling out self-help workbooks. Here are a couple of my favorites from this year that haven’t already been mentioned in this post:

2020 hit different. The year of perfect vision bailed on it’s optometry appointment and so much of life got cancelled in the same year that cancel culture was used to such an aggressive degree. It’s really easy to go on and on recognizing the sorrows of the year that shall not be named in an attempt to validate some of the good but sometimes that’s old news. Sometimes, we need to keep moving forward, keep trying for a better tomorrow instead of wallowing in the pain of today. As Stephan Furtick so boldly said: You can’t receive new miracles with old mindsets.

Preach.

This year many people, myself included, just tried to survive. In the moment, I felt that so much. In the sadness and the suffering; the endless “God, are you there?” questions wondered aloud.. we did so much more than survive. I dare you to take time to really evaluate the year you had. Acknowledge the shit parts and celebrate the incredible moments, even if they are few.

If 2020 really did suck the life out of you, I urge you to use last year as a stepping stone as you venture into 2021, don’t toss it aside as if it wasn’t important because it was. It’s another bit of the framework that makes you, you. Dare to thrive in 2021, not just survive. <3

When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents, and those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same. You have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living, you are wrapped in endless, boundless grace. And things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday. -Morgan Harper Nichols

Thirty-One

Thank you for all of the well wishes, calls, and messages yesterday! This years celebration was much more tame. I’d even dare to take celebration out of the mix completely and call it “just another day.” Though, it wasn’t just another day because I think birthdays are something special!

My 30th year wasn’t at all like I’d hoped it would be. I remember writing a similar post to this last year gushing about all the things in year #29 that made me feel so alive. (Read about it here because it’ll make you smile!) I miss that girl. The pre-pandemic, feeling-like-she-could-conquer-anything fearless soul of a woman. She is a hero to my present self and didn’t even realize it.

I’m sure I’ll elaborate on this more in my year end review but 2020 threw us all for a curveball, it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just you. It wasn’t just the virus or the protests or the election or the fires. It was all of it, all at once, constantly. It was watching families and friendships disappear over DT vs JB, two old men that most of us will never meet. It was inserting COVID-19 into every single conversation instead of the weather. It was seeing how polar opposite people feel about the BLM movement, about the feminist movement, about equality. It was watching people you love lose their jobs, others getting sick, and even more having to postpone their lives because of these “trying times.” It’s really easy to focus on the shitty stuff of this year, it so is. And I’m not going to pretend this year hasn’t been crap because it kind of has been.

I’m beyond blessed to have been employed throughout this mess when so many people weren’t as fortunate. But it hasn’t been easy. I’m a single woman living alone and the majority of my social life revolved around the relationships I formed with people I see 8+ hours a day. That was taken away, gone, poof by transitioning to a work-from-home life. I hit a new type of low in my 30th year, even lower then when I went through the toughest year of my life. I often found myself sitting still watching the world spin around me with gushing love sentiments, beautiful marriages, and sweet babies cooing so far out of reach, it felt impossible. I started going to therapy for the first time ever this year.

I was sad A LOT, I am still sad a lot.

But that sadness, the frustration of the year, the dreams lost, the wtf is happening roadblocks that keep coming up.. I chose not to let it define my 30th year or my 2020. I think it’s really important to acknowledge the tough parts of life because we all fall into the trap of a filtered version especially on social media, myself included. But the good stuff has been really good too and if we all take time to truly evaluate our lives, I hope you have some good stuff to share too. And I hope that good stuff quite literally trumps all the things that made you sad.

In my 30th year, I traveled to Iceland solo, made it to Hawaii before the shutdowns began and learned how to snorkel. I celebrated my nieces 4th birthday by making cupcakes together and we painted pumpkins just a couple of weeks ago. She even learned how to spell my name without any help this year! #auntiewin I sent care packages to people and letters. I went on long hikes in area state parks, swung on swings for the first time in years, and called my grandma more than usual. I went tubing TWICE, joined a 16-week fitness boot camp, and (socially distantly) ran away to Montana for a week to find some quite in my very loud mind. I met incredible people from across the globe that may not have happened without a pandemic and one of my favorite people in the world (my brother) got married!

This year didn’t totally suck, it’s just really overshadowed by the dark clouds above us. I had to shift a lot of dreams in the way of cancelled trips and a limited social life but a lot of really fantastic moments filled my 30th year too. I know it’s not easy but there is a silver lining in an otherwise weird AF whirlwind and I hope you can see that. To quote the pre-pandemic, feeling-like-she-could-conquer-anything fearless soul of a woman from a year ago:

If you’ve made it this far in my ramble, I hope you’re living your best year yet and if you’re not, you deserve to be. If I’ve learned anything in life this far, I know that I was always the only person ever holding myself back from happiness. You have to choose it daily. I used to (and sometimes still do) let people determine my mood and my choices. Some days will suck but that doesn’t mean weeks or months or years have to. You’re more kickass than you give yourself credit for! Remember that.

Thank you again to every single person who wished me well yesterday! Thank you to my uncle who calls me and sings to me every single year, to my mom for a girls day on Sunday, to my birthday twin for sending me flowers. Thank you for lifting my spirits and for filling my heart with so much love. It’s incredible to see how we’ve had to adapt in a socially distant world but still have the ability to reach each other. Cheers to the next 365+ days and to health! God is good. ♥️

2019: A Year in Review

Ya girl here with an annual update of all things ME! because it’s okay to channel TSwift on a semi-regular basis. After all, they say you need to love yourself before you can truly love others and that was the very-much-intentional theme for my 2019. (#unintentionalrhyme) While I didn’t fully accomplish the “love yo’ self” goal, I definitely chipped away at it and found out that my overall word for the last year of the teens and to close out the decade was INDEPENDENCE. Cue independent related songs, plz. I should have made a playlist.

Before I continue, I do have to say that 2019 really was hella good to me so this post might end up appearing like a cheese-fest but honestly, I’m okay with that because we’re supposed to celebrate each others wins even though most people forget to do that. If you’re not into that, this is the point where you roll your eyes and exit. Boy, bye.

I’ve rarely been one to focus on the bad, the crummy, and the ugly but I have had a couple of not-so-hot years, too. This post is by no means a gloat-fest because I know others may have had a year of misfortune or some really really tough moments. Rather, this is an opportunity for me to share with you that you CAN overcome whatever hand you were dealt, even the most unwelcome ones. While I touch on it briefly, what I don’t share in this post is how many times I’ve been disappointed in those closest to me this year and how often I’ve let people down or how lonely it gets when everyone you know is celebrating their love while you are three blankets deep, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in, watching another episode of Outlander on Netflix. #mood

Life is sometimes a bummer. But it’s also really great if you allow the great in.

With that being said and because I’m supes cliché, here are NINETEEN significant moments from my 2019. Note, I did not say my “top 19” for a reason. While most of these are positives, I did have a few bumps and they did define my year overall. *In chronological order because it was too hard to weigh the importance.*

  1. Knee Probs: I had serious FML vibes at the start of the year. At the top of resolution season 2019, the slick ice outside took me out more than once, finally landing me on the ground with a torn ACL and meniscus. I’m counting my blessings this year each time I make it across the ice without slipping.
  2. Art Therapy: I’ve always had a knack for all the things art but this year was the cherry on top after abandoning my creative spirit for so many years. I took an 8-week pottery class, found a new appreciation via mural works, quilled N’ chilled, and make alcohol ink coasters, to name just a few. I even busted out of my insecurity bubble and tried pole dancing and sound bath meditation. All the kinds of arts FTW.
  3. Arizona! I checked off another state with my mom during our yearly trip to somewhere new and set eyes on one of the seven natural wonders of the world; the Grand Canyon! Read about our trip here.
  4. Rediscovered Faith: At a time in my life that I felt unbearably lost, I found myself waking up early and driving to a church near me. I had no intention of doing this, it just happened and it’s changed my life in so many ways. In 2020, I hope to share my faith story but I haven’t had the courage to do so quite yet. In finding my way this last year, I was welcomed with love and open arms. I attended a small group class, volunteered regularly, joined a grow group, and met truly wonderful followers in Christ both in and outside of the church I attend. I don’t know when I’ll put my Faith Story into words but when I do, it’ll live here.
  5. Concerts! I added Taking Back Sunday, Robert DeLong, LovelyTheBand, Flora Cash, Post Malone, Swae Lee, and Tyla Yaweh to my ever-growing list of “have seen” artists! Posty was the first concert that I attended completely alone. #yearoffirsts
  6. North Shore! OMG, you guys. While this might have seemed minuscule to some, this first regional solo trip was life-changing for me and set into motion something big later in the year. I was really struggling with some things during this time and very spur of the moment changed my plans from camping with my aunts family for a week to embarking on a self-reflection journey for a few days in solitude. I chronicled it via insta and then shared it here.
  7. Celebrated Love! My brother got engaged this year! I felt so honored that he asked me to capture this special moment and even more honored to be asked to be their Maid of Honor. An old friend from my daycare days also shared news of her engagement last spring and I can’t wait to celebrate with them this fall! My cousin is expecting her first little bundle of cuteness and my aunt moved her whole life to another city and is loving it! My youngest brother continues to make me a proud big sister as he continues to grow into the best father Emma could ever hope for. There was so much love this year, so much that I can’t even remember it all.
  8. That Camp Life! I attended two big Unglued events this year; a sleepover adult SUMMER CAMP (say what!) and day-long Fall Retreat! Both all by my lonesome BUT between the two, I met some really cool, kickass peeps. I built myself a blanket ladder, learned how to play the uke, got crafty AF, and found a beer I was actually into. I also may or may not have even dressed up and danced all my worries away in a barn wearing a bright blue wig looking like something magical.
  9. The People! In 2019, not only did I meet more people from more walks of life than ever before but I formed some really cool friendships with people that I only “kinda knew” in years past. Going to church turned into meeting so many wonderful people that are now pillars of strength and mentors in my life. Co-workers turned into important people that I spend time with outside of the regular 8-5. I went on dates; I went on some really bad dates and some really funny ones, too. I reconnected with old friends and best friends from another life. I met and visited with complete strangers in Arizona and Grand Marais and [spoiler] Iceland! 2019 had so many cool people, yo.
  10. Self Care: Ya girl treated herself in 2019. Facials and a regular at-home mask sesh, took myself to church, practiced app-guided meditation like a BOSS, took vitamins on a semi-reg basis, started getting my nails did. (Insert cute high-five girl emoji here.)
  11. State Fair + Apples: Because who doesn’t like either of those? I love everything State Fair and while my brother and his boo aren’t fans like I am (Crowds, heat, long lines, the smell of manure.. What’s not to love?), they still indulged me and agreed to make a weekend of it. We stopped at a neat little orchard that too and took a wagon ride through the woods like one does.
  12. Tattoo: It finally happened. After 11 years of indecisiveness, I finally did it.
  13. Turned 30! I have been flopping between wondering what happened to my 20’s and being so excited for this next decade. Currently: So excited. Also, I wrote something cool about turning 30. Check it out here.
  14. Got a New Job! Same company, new position. I learned a lot this year in the power of advocating for yourself and sticking to your guns; for believing that I was capable of great change in a company that I’m passionate about being a part of its future self. Plus, I finally got to fly in the company plane this year. So that was totes cool.
  15. Iceland! I really am at a loss for words. Trying to describe something so transformative to my life is difficult in the best ways. To the point even, that I owe myself three days worth of unbelievable moments left to transcribe. (I should get on that.) This was my first experience with group travel, my first time in Iceland, and my first time traveling alone abroad. I literally cannot wait until my next adventure! The days that I have detailed can be found here. The others will be up as soon as I stop procrastinating. :)
  16. Kittens: Bodhi is the best love bug snuggle bear any girl could wish for and we celebrated Agnes’ “got ya” day in December. I can’t imagine a life without cats in it. And that is a very objective, unbiased statement.
  17. Everything Emma: Need I say more? I could go on for days but I’ll save most of it for the book I’m sure I’ll write about her one day. Emma has a heart so big it makes my own nearly burst. She is such a goofball and so bright. I know everyone says it about the little’s in their lives but she really is going to change the world. I’d bet on it.
  18. Prayed Hard: A year of greats isn’t without sadness and anxiety. On the health front, a friend found himself in the hospital, both of my grandma’s are really feeling their age this year; I spent New Year’s Eve with my aunt and ungle along side my grandma pre and post-surgery for a broken arm among other things. My former boss and now co-worker has a son that suffered serious trauma recently; a young boy in our community died. All of this in 2019. Those are just the ingredients in my 2019 prayer cake. It’s also filled to the brim with so many blessing from those in my life that I care about and love.
  19. Self-Worth: This is tough one but one that I try to make an effort to improve upon every day that I can. It’s hard to grasp what self-worth should be or how to truly obtain it. To me, it’s a thing you see in movies like a great romance or a wizarding world of broomsticks and spells; it’s just a fairy-tale, to love yourself. I’ve very slowly, like snail-pace slowly, been working on my “you’re worth it” mantra and really evaluating the things that make me worth the friendship or the early morning coffee date or the relationship or the pamper yo’ self night or the ‘buy that purse because it looks cute’ splurge. I’ll get there, because I’m worth it. ;)

Okay, there you have it. The nineteen most impactful “somethings” from my 2019. I have a lot of really great things planned for this next year and for the first time in my LIFE, I followed through on nearly all of my goals this last year. I surprised myself more than once, did more than I had ever expected to, and grew in ways that I didn’t know I was capable of.

If I can give any advice for anyone reading this and questioning their 2020, my mom has always reminded me of this: Let go and let God.

Thirty.

Thank you for all of the calls, texts, Happy Birthday songs, posts, gigantic balloons, and love this last week and weekend! The world sure knows how to help a girl ring in 30 with style.

Last year, I made a promise to myself to let 29 be the best year yet and on a rare occasion, I saw that promise to myself come to fruition. I checked off another state on my bucket list traveling with my mom to Arizona and watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon. I embarked on my first solo trip up the North Shore and took the most beautiful photos, if I do say so myself. I joined community events, took all the classes I could to feed my creative needs, and found adventure often on my own because I decided some time ago that didn’t need to always wait for someone else to be interested in things.

I strengthened relationships with those I love and because of that get to stand next to my future sister when she marries one of the best men in this world (my brother)! I went to plays and concerts and a ballet. I brought Bodhi home a little sister kitten and we named her Agnes.

This year I found my home church and in it, a passionate community filled to the brim with sunshine I didn’t know existed. I advocated for myself in my career, I went to sleepover summer camp, and I went on some weird dates but I also found out that you find genuinely good people, turned friends, in the places you’d least expect it.

To really send my 20’s the best of farewells and with the inspiration from a beautiful soul I met this year, I started an adventure journal a little more than 30 days ago. Each day leading up to my birthday, I did something new. Some days were small like a new gold eye mask, some days were life changing and some, humbling. I plan to continue my adventues moving into year 30, but on a weekly basis. Doing something new every single day is harder than you’d think!

Before I share my top 9 (because Nov. 9, duh), if you’ve made it this far in my ramble, I hope you’re living your best year yet and if you’re not, you deserve to be.

If I’ve learned anything in life this far, I know that I was always the only person ever holding myself back from happiness. You have to choose it daily. I used to (and sometimes still do) let people determine my mood and my choices. Some days will suck but that doesn’t mean weeks or months or years have to. You’re more kickass than you give yourself credit for! Remember that.

And to ground this post a bit when it might be sounding too peachy keen for those that forget we’re all guilty of a filtered social media life: I have had a lot of shit days in the last year (and decade) too. I lost friendships I thought I’d have forever and I still haven’t lost weight. Honestly, I’ve gained even more. I’ve had my heart broken and I struggle with bouts of anxiety especially when trying something new. Sometimes I can’t look at myself in the mirror because I can’t find a single thing to love. I get sad when everyone I know shares photos of thier beautifully blessed growing families and I’m afraid I’ll never find love in the ‘swipe right’ world we live in. But I do my best not to let all the stuff that bums me out determine my quality of life. Because deep down, I know that I’m so worth it and guess what? You’re so worth it too.

Okay, here my top 9 favorite things of that last 30+ days:

  • Joined a Grow Group at church.
  • Got my first tattoo!
  • Learned how to quill.
  • Went to a Sound Bath Meditation class.
  • Bought lunch for the person behind me in line.
  • Took pole dancing classes!
  • Learned how to play the ukulele!
  • Bought someone flowers “Just Because.”
  • Surprised one of my oldest friends for her birthday!

Thank you again to every single person that has cheered me on this year. You’ve impacted and influenced my life more than I can express and I’m grateful. Here’s to the next 365+ days! I’m excited, God is good, and laughter solves most everything. ♥️

2018: A Year in Review

January 1st is one of my favorite days. Not only because it’s the symbol of a “fresh start” to a healthier life both physically and mentally but because I like to take the time to review how the year in our rearview mirrors really went.

Last year on this very day, I was hurting. My heart ached an ache that I still, to this day, cannot put into words appropriately. During the holiday season, I had ended a relationship that spanned my entire adult life, nearly 10 years. I walked away from everything I had ever known including the daydreams I had had since I was a little girl. I set aside the title of future Mrs. and painfully pressed pause on the idea of hearing a child call me “mommy.” Out of fear and probably a little pride, I didn’t tell my family for weeks and the rest of the world for months. I didn’t want to prove people right. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had failed. I didn’t want all the friendships I sacrificed for a man to be for nothing.

I now know I didn’t fail. I didn’t give up. Friendships lost throughout the years are capable of being mended. I’m worthy of love and happiness and all the things.

While it’s easy to think of how hard a year was and wish it farewell in the most “fuck you” way possible, I think we all loose sight of how incredibly blessed we are. My 2018 was full of both love and tribulation. From my weakest of moments to my strongest of days; so many laughs and nights I’ll never forget. I traveled to my number one bucket list destination, I spent as much time with my family as possible, I watched my niece grow into a chatty little nugget of joy. I explored and camped and attended a ballet. I figured out how to be alone in a bustling world full of people.

In 2018, I took time to reach out to the people in my life from days past and plan to continue doing that. I’ve walked away from friendships that were painful to be a part of. I’ve (slowly) began giving myself a damn chance and figuring out who I am, what makes me tick and who I want to be.

I can’t please everyone. No one can. If there’s anything I can share with anyone still hanging on to this ridiculously long post, figure your shit out in 2019. You’re so worth it. Don’t bother with people who aren’t capable of cheering you on. Life is hard the way it is and we’re all way too old not to at least try to enjoy the time we have left. Make the memories people have of you the best possible ones.

If you were in my 2018, thank you. You’ve likely helped me in more ways than you could ever imagine. ❤️

Farewell to you, 2017.

The New Year has always been one of my favorite times. Not because years past have been crap but because the symbol of a New Year brings so much hope to the possibility of good things yet to come. I took some time today to look back at all the photos I’ve taken and shared over the last year and can’t believe how every single moment captured holds a place in my heart that I’ll always cherish.

2017 was an amazing year, so many beautiful moments. 2017 was also rocked with heartbreak and loss of which I’ve never felt more blessed than I do in this moment to have the family and friends in my life that I do. I’m taking some time away from sharing what I’ve written. Over the years, if you’d stayed with me, I’ve gone through ups and downs and have learned to be careful with what I share. This has restricted me creatively and personally.

Right now, I’m hurting for reasons I hope to elaborate on in the future to both share my story and to find healing through it.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this:

“When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents, and those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same. You have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living, you are wrapped in endless, boundless grace. And things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday.” -Morgan Harper Nichols

Thank you to every single person that was in my 2017; I hope you’re in my 2018 too.

New Year Improvements

New Year, New You. New Years Resolutions. New Year, I’m going to stay the same asshole I’ve always been. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what this post is about.

We’re on day 3 of 2016 and it kind of feels the same as day 3 after your birthday. You feel the same but you’re a year older. Or in this case, we’ve entered a new year. Everyone is always like [after your birthday], do you feel “whatever age you are?” No, not really. Pretty soon, you still feel like you’re 20 years old but wake up and realize you’re 26. Where did the time go?

Where did 2015 go? And 2014? 2013? The New Year flies by just as quickly as our birthdays, anniversaries, memories. Days are the jet airplanes of life.

Every year I write some kind of New Years post and every year I look back at my year prior and reflect on ‘how I did.’ Surprise! New Years resolutions fall to the weigh side about as quickly as Valentine’s Day candy hits the shelves. This year, I decided to do something a little different. I’ve been seeing all these articles the last few weeks about what to leave in 20-15 and must-haves for the new year. I took some tips from them, along with my own running list of improvements for the next 363 days..this is what I came up with.

Stop holding grudges: Yep, I’m that girl. For some reason, it’s so hard for me to “get over it” as some would say.

Commit to less negative talk and self-criticisms: This is probably the hardest improvement I haven’t yet accepted. Channing and my mom are my sounding boards. I complain and over-analyze about things that I really don’t need to waste my energy on. In order for this to work, I will need to distance myself from people that drain me more then energize me.

Make time for hobbies instead of TV: There are so many things that I love to do but day after day they get pushed aside because I’m too lazy to get off my ass. This is the year for me to explore photography, writing, graphic design, and so many other things.

Travel More: This one needs no explanation. I’m going to get my butt out of Minn-Dak and see more of the country then I’ve ever seen. Watch me.

Practice generosity: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a horrible tipper and rarely donate to anything. My expectations are often too high when it comes to people and the human race in general. This year, I want to pay it forward and try to understand situations that are out of my control.

Get healthy, not lose weight: I’ve never been thin or fit for that matter. I really can’t give myself an unrealistic number to strive towards. I want to be able to do things that I literally cannot do because of my size and I finally have a support system in my life that will help push me in the direction of my health and fitness goals.

Stop worrying about the future: A few posts ago, I talked about letting go of the past. This goes for the future too. I’m always going to be a planner but I need to focus more on the present instead of the future children, house, family, life that I wish for. I need to find myself in the present before my future is even a possibility.

Well, that’s about it. Basically, I’m going to continue being me. I haven’t set any unrealistic goals for myself. I’ve made mental note of some things I need to work on as a person and have finally decided to do things that make me happy in life. I’m not going to deal with things or people that bring me down. I’m over pleasing people instead of myself. I’m going to focus on those I love and be the best version of me that I can — sarcasm and all.  What are your goals or improvements for the year to come?

Some ideas and content were re-used from Buzzfeed and Inc.com. Respective articles found here: 23 Things To Do To Improve Your Mental Health In 2016 and 25 Things You Need To Let Go Before The New Year.

2015: A Year in Review

What a year, huh? I know 20-15 isn’t quite over but I’ve been thinking a lot about the past and present. I seem to dwell on it all. There are a couple words that I would use to explain year two thousand and fifteen including “adventure” and “acceptance” and “family” and “money” or “lack thereof.”

The rest of the year should go pretty smoothly though. All the gifts are under the tree, a cookie goodie exchange this weekend, binge watching Christmas shows and the icing on the cake…spending the holiday with my family. I’ve got December down pat.

I wanted to take a minute to review this year a little differently than I have in the past. Let’s start with the best part of course:

What was the best part of 2015?
The trip I took with my mom, hands down. That week traveling the mid-west blue was one of the best weeks of my life. Actually, it was the best week of my life. I can’t believe it was only 6 or so months ago. It seems like an eternity.

My mom and I hope to make this a yearly thing. I’m afraid that’ll be easier said than done due to finances but I don’t think I’ll ever lose the feeling of how wonderful it was to see things I never thought I’d see. I can’t wait for our next big adventure!

If you’d like to read about it, click here.

What was the worst part of 2015?
Frankie’s dance with death. Emotionally, physically, financially. It influenced my life, work, everything. I’m so glad we’re passed that but unfortunately, he still hasn’t been nurtured. The biggest reason I haven’t looked back into it is because I’m afraid that the same thing will happen. I wouldn’t be able to afford it and I wouldn’t be able to say “pull the plug” if it came down to that.

What else happened in 2015?
Well, we started out in a small middle of nowhere town in Minnesota and ended up in the biggest city in North Dakota. We made sacrifices but we really believe they were for the greater good in our future.

We struggled a lot financially and still are. I feel like I keep repeating that. We’re fine, we can pay our bills. We can afford a weekly movie and to go out to dinner. But because of some of the things that went down this year, our savings accounts are quickly disappearing. I have so many plans for 2016 which you’ll read in a future post and I don’t want finances to hold me back.

I hate the cycle of life that we live in. Work to live and live to work. I’m finally at the point in my life where I’m not allowing other people’s problems and excuses be excuses for me and now that I’ve come to terms with that, I’m afraid that I’m going to be the excuse because I don’t have the green. Also, Channing got his license back this year and we found out that my youngest brother and his girlfriend are expecting which is both scary and exciting!

What did you learn?
I learned that honesty isn’t always the best policy. Earlier this year, I had expressed my feelings and opinions to my brother about his girlfriend. It was eating me up inside and I knew that if I told him how I felt, there was a 50/50 chance of breaking the connection we’ve always had. Turns out, I really damaged the cord I’d been hanging on to so tightly and it hurt. Right now, we’re fine I guess. It’s kind of a non-subject like it didn’t happen as far as I can tell. I feel like since then, I save face a lot. I keep my opinions to myself because my relationship with him is more important to me than letting him know how I feel. If he is happy, I have no choice but to be happy for him. That is what matters to me, is that he is happy. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I don’t have to understand everything.

To be honest, I think that we’re also at different stages in our lives which may be some of the reason we’ve drifted apart. I don’t know. I just hope that time doesn’t make us strangers like it does to so many.

Final thoughts?
In 2015, I really found myself. I’m still lost within the world of my own mind but I think I’ve finally allowed myself to leave the past in the past. Live in the present and plan for the future. Not deal with other people’s bullshit and allow myself to be happy instead of just pretending and always trying to fix people.

Other than the most amazing trip ever with my mom, 20-15 was kind of uneventful. Channing and I didn’t get to really go anywhere except for Minneapolis once which was kind of a cluster but job changes, moves and finances made small weekend trips more difficult. I’m proud of who I’ve become in the last year and can’t wait for the exciting things that are in store for the next year!

The Yearly Cliché.

A couple years ago, I wrote about not making New Years Resolutions but instead making smaller goals each month to try and stay on track. It worked for awhile just like every other variation of a resolution does. But somewhere along the way, it quietly vanished.

This year, I’m going to revert to the more cliché version of a set of resolutions. Some I’ll succeed at and some I won’t. Most of these are very realistic. Some are a stretch but with the proper guidance, I know I can succeed. To make up for a really crappy couple of years (2011-2012) I want to do a little traveling. Of course, I want to travel the world but in order to succeed at fulfilling my New Years Resolutions, I’m going to be a bit more realistic.

  • Create a realistic 5-Year plan. I’m 25. I’m not married, have no children, nor do I own a house. I want to do all of those things in the next 5 years. I’d like Channing and I to sit down sometime soon and prioritize our needs and wants both as a couple and on the professional front – to create a plan and stick to it. I also plan on making a personal 5-year plan that will lay out my personal interests and hobbies which may or may not include writing a book, Pinteresting my way into home shows, and traveling to England, Paris, and Ireland.
  • Lose 50 pounds. Since June, I’ve lost about 33 pounds. It’s been a little rocky and I’ve gotten off track since moving to Bemidji but I’m determined to continue my progress. 50 pounds is very realistic if I use the tools I’ve been given. Ideally, I want to push myself to double that number in the year 20-15. I know 100 pounds does seem unrealistic but given how much I actually need to lose in order to become healthy, it’s a blip on the radar screen.
  • Travel around the area. This is a long one..Because I first need to lose a substantial amount of weight before I feel comfortable purchasing ONE seat in airfare (rather than 2); I decided that I’m going to travel via car this year. Traveling further than I can drive will be one of my many rewards after losing more weight. I want to travel to all the border states/countries of Minnesota. I’ve listed a few specific places. Some I’ve been to, some I haven’t: Duluth, Gooseberry Falls, Grand Marais, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Superior, Brainerd, Red Wing, Wisconsin Dells, and Sioux Falls just to name a few. I’d also like to go somewhere in ND other than Fargo or Grand Forks, stop at a few other places in SD, and venture to Iowa. Where in Iowa? I have no idea. Included in the Minnesotan borders is Canada. I don’t know where specifically but I’ll head that way too! I’d also like to visit as many waterfalls, caves, and state parks as possible. I want to be on the water, sail, and visit lighthouses. I love to explore.
  • Don’t Pass Up Good Events. This is something I’ve done a lot. Sadly, I’ve had a handful of oppertunities over the last few years to go and do something but I either used a bad day, Channing’s mood, or money as an excuse not to do something or go somewhere. A few things on my bucket list this year given that they are within driving distance and things aren’t sold out would include: Seeing Taylor Swift in either Fargo or St. Paul, Bo Burhnham if he ever gets his ass to tour around here, and a Vikings football and Twins baseball game. I don’t really like either of those sports to any kind of extreme but I think a professional sports team would be interesting to see live and because my boyfriend likes sports, we both win. I should also probably make a point of going to the MN State Fair this year too since I’ve never been.
  • Buy A Passport. I believe I need one these days in order to even go to Canada so it’s a must-get for this year. If I’m not mistaken, they are good for 10 years too so that should get me set for my European venture in a couple years.

There you go! I have quite a few more resolutions which primarily fall in the first resolution so I won’t bore you with them quite yet. I’d love to hear about your New Years Resolutions! The realistic ones and the far-fetched ideas. What are you going to do to make this year one to remember? Also, if you have any fun or must-see places that you’ve been to in the region, let me know. Word of mouth experiences are the best places to visit.

Cheers to 20-15!!

Guess What Day It Is!

Get it? Because it’s hump day and January 1st all rolled into one ridiculous reference to a camel focused insurance commercial. Laugh.

If you think about it, the calendar is a funny thing. An important “thing” but a funny one at that. The calendar defines us as human beings. It determines our age, the day of the week, when we should celebrate, and when we should make goals.

There’s a fuss about this thing called “New Years Resolutions” otherwise known as January 1st. So many of us decide that that’s the day that we’re going to make a change for the better. We’re going to lose weight, stop smoking; heck we might even start being nicer people!

As soon as we disappoint ourselves within hours, days, or if your lucky, weeks, we start over. Again. We always start over, give ourselves a re-do. Before we know it it’s already October and we’ve been “re-doing” for 10 months. I always start over on Sundays. See, the calendar somehow always gets pulled back into the ring.

I don’t think any of us really understand the definition of a resolution. So, since we are lucky enough to live in a world full of Wikipedia inspired statistics and Dictionary.com definitions; I’ll define it for you.

res-o-lu-tion – [rez-uh-loo-shuhn] – noun: 1. A formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group. 2. A decision or determination; a resolve: to make a firm resolution to do something. 3. The act determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, ect.; the act of resolving. 4. Firmness of purpose; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute. 5. The act or process of separating into constituent or elementary parts or resolving.

Or, in other words, figuring it out. Before we go any further, I want to reassure you that this isn’t about the pros and cons of New Years Disappointments. It was simply an observation.

I think it’s inspiring to see people make such resolutions and actually follow through for more than a month. I’ve made resolutions myself and I’m doing it again this year just like the last 20 some and just like the next 70 some years. We’ll never stop making resolutions.

This year though, I want to try something different. I’m going to try and live up to goals rather than resolutions. I’m not sure that I can confidently decide or make a firm resolution to do something. But I can make goals. The way my brain works, if I make a goal; I’m able to reach for it. I can make it half way there and at least say that I attempted to make my goal. When you stop resolutioning (new word, deal with it), you have to say that you broke your resolution. People stop listening when you say “Well, I was doing really good for the first 3 weeks, then I…” They gone. All they really heard was “I’m a statistic, I failed.”

Goals seem to have stories. They have steps, mile markers, gold stars, ect. I personally would like to see someone make a goal to lose 50 pounds and through social media watch them achieve each milestone rather than someone saying my resolution is to lose weight. Okay. Why? How much? By when? What are you going to do to achieve that? Who’s your support system? If you can answer even one of those questions, than you should be making goals not resolutions.

One of my first “goals” that I’ve already 50% completed is to start a new blog. The other 50% obviously won’t be officially complete until December, 31st. (Yet, again with the calendar.)

Over the next couple days I’m going to be tweaking and updating this blog. It’ll include my goals for the year twenty fourteen, what I’m going to do to achieve them, and everything in between. I intend on writing every day no matter the circumstance. You’ll see why down the line but I don’t want you to know too much on day one. That takes away all of the mystery. I could spoil it for you because there isn’t really any mystery to be solved.

Although I’ll probably jump from point A to point B more often than not; the true reason for this blog is to find myself. I need to re-discover my passions and make new ones. I need to jump outside of the box because before I became so introverted, I was much happier with my outlook on life and the future. I want to be able to look in the mirror and see my dreams and aspirations come to life not just be figments of my imagination.

Writing is going to be my platform for figuring it out. I’ll never claim to be a grammatical savant or talented writer although I’d love to believe that but I do want to improve and find my niche both through the keyboard and in real life.

And in case I never acknowledge it from this point forward, thanks. Thanks for following me through my posts, thanks for knowing me before 2014 and after. And most of all, thanks for being the one of probably 3 people that’ll actually take the time to stay updated on this blog.

Cheers to 20-14! 

There are two sides to every story.

There are two sides to every story.

New You.

As most people know, New Years Resolutions are always the hardest promises to keep to ourselves.  I started a New You New Year edition of resolutions in January and stuck pretty close to it for a few months.  About the same time a lot of my relationship problems started arising; I found it harder and harder to keep focus on my personal goals.  So yes, they are on hold for the time being.  I need to get myself together, find an apartment in Grand Forks, and just get settled before I add that back into my daily routine.  I wish I could incorporate it right now but there is such a high volume of things going on and needing to be taken care of that it just had to be pushed aside.  Hopefully though, in the future my New You resolutions will be a way of living everyday life and not a struggle to accomplish!  Here’s to pushing through the tough times!