Wood Tipi, a poem.

I feel pretty dang independent, especially compared to the first 20-something years of my life. But, I’ve hit a snag. What I really really want to do is go camping.

The real kind of camping. You know the kind. Where you rough it on a blow up matress in the woods.

The kind where the dirt somehow made it inside the tent and your shower is the natural spring down the way.

The kind of camping that gives you weird tan lines and the kind that gives your dirty hair a perfect voluminous wave that a styling tool just can’t compete with.

I love camping. It’s hands down, my favorite summetime activity.

But.

I just can’t talk myself into going alone, like the act of camping, that is.

I’ve been camping more times than I have fingers and toes.

But.

I’ve never put my tent up or started a fire alone. Is that what’s stopping me? I know I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

But.

What is it really? What is stopping me from going at it alone?

And why does no one in my life enjoy a campfire full of stories and an open air tent to count the stars?

Maybe that’s part of it?

Part of the enjoyment of camping is bonding with others whilst roasting s’mores.

Part of the excitement of camping is catching dinner on the boat miles from shore without a care in the world.

Part of the camping I love is chowing down on burnt hot dogs and laughing with the people I adore.

Part of camping.. is turning the music up so loud that you forget you’re singing in the woods, among the wildflowers.

Part of camping is getting sunkissed shoulders on Minnesotan ponds, telling all the stories, and watching the fireflies dance in the midnight sky.

I don’t ask for a lot, I really don’t.

I’m just looking for someone who can tipi a stack of wood with me and enjoy every single second of that kind of camping.

Day 3: Sun soaked hair and salty skin.

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay was incredible. The end. 🙂

Our driver was a dude by the name of Zak. He said we looked like snorkelers when he picked us up and then told us it was the most perfect day to go but I’m sure he tells everyone that because he told everyone he picked up that they look like snorkelers. Classic, Zak. In my three days here, I can’t imagine a day that is anything different than what we’ve witnessed. But it really was the perfect day especially for beginners like us.

The short hike leading up to Hanauma Bay was exactly like you’d see in a postcard. The varying blues of the Pacific Ocean creeped into the crater that is the bay, the breeze was light, and the palm trees soared.

As a member of the first-timer snorkeling club, I thought I had it figured out. Just breathe. Funny because it’s like I forgot how. The water was only waist deep and I know how to swim, yet I keep psyching myself out when it was time to go under. After mustering up enough courage and a mouthful or two of salty water, I finally got the hang of it. Though, I was initially breathing like I was about to give birth. What is wrong with me?!

While I wish I had an underwater camera to share photos of the colors I saw and schools of fish I floated by today, I didnt. But I think going without made it all that much more sweet; a memory all my own. It was so peaceful watching gorgeous shimmery rainbow fish feed on the coral and tiny white with black speckle fish swim over my arms as I lay still in the water. You guys, I even found Dory! She was just a cute as the cartoon and was the only one of her kind among these medium-sized orange, yellow, and royal blue fish. What an experience and I cant wait to go again!

After a brief break to change and relax from a morning of flippering around (get it?), we hit up the Iolani Palace. Iolani Palace is the only royal residence in the entire country and was last lived in by Queen Liliuokalani in 1893 before the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown.

While meticulously restored to it’s original condition from the times of past queens and kings, the palace was a tish underwhelming. Only a handful of rooms and nooks contained furniture while other areas were completely empty. The design of the palace was incredible though with rooms inside of rooms and I spotted triangular shaped crannies in roped off areas. More of the palace seems to be off limits than on but whatevs, I’m sure there is a reason for it. The tour was self-guided via an audio device and if one wanted to spend a couple of hours there to bury themselves in the history, they might have left with a more fulfilling experience. 6/10 recommend.

Iolani Palace is behind the open air Hawaii State Capital building. I think this may have been my first state capital building visit, I haven’t even visited my home state of Minnesota’s building. Shame on me.

My initial thought walking through this area was that Hawaii must be an architect’s dream. To not have to really worry about the elements and just let your imagination run wild dreaming new designs.

Entering the State Capital building didn’t happen through a door, it’s just there. You are all of a sudden inside. Seeing the doors for the Senate and House of Representatives surrounded by a moat-like feature with families of ducks floating throughout and a roof in the shape of a volcanic cone open to the sky.. you’re just in it.

Quotes that made me laugh today:
“When is the Pineapple Palace?” -Dad
“We haven’t had breakfast all week!” – Dad (P.S. Yes, we have. Lol, dad.)
“Those are my tan seeds.” – Mom in reference to her shoulder freckles.

Day 2: Aloha from O’ahu!

Uff, I’m tired. But the good kind, you know? We all woke up pre-alarms today. I don’t know how rare it is for my parents to do that but it never happens for me. So I feel like a warrior.

After getting ready and my dad rolling his eyes because I needed to at least put mascara on (I have the classic see-through ginger lashes. Trust me, I’m saving us all by wearing a little ‘scara), we made our way to breakfast. Have you ever been to a continental that has french toast?! Me either! Also, I don’t know if it’s my vaca brain or Hawaii but the fruit here is some of the best I’ve ever had. So so fresh.

Today was one of my kinda, sorta, wing it days. They usually go just fine and this one definitely did but I still feel uneasy not having each day totally planned out. I can’t help but think there is time being wasted. But whatevs, I’m trying to get in touch with the islands “hang loose” pace.

After a 20 minute walk along Luxary Row aka the places I’ll never shop at #GUCCI, we hopped aboard the Red Line of Waikiki Trolley and made our way to the Foster Botanical Garden.

One of the first plants I came across was the Queen Emma flower and how perfectly fitting because my niece Emma is as beautiful inside and out as this flower and garden. This was a pretty sweet place and we spent about an hour looking at all of the lush green plants taller than we were and admiring the twisty trees. Two of my favorite were a Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree and the Quipo Tree. Google ’em.

Along the route is a butterfly sancuary with, what seems to be, a solitaire monarch. I don’t know where the others were but the Sioux Falls Butterfly House has these guys beat.

Between looking up at trees as if they were sky rises in a big city and tracking down Monte the Monarch, I did have a mini panic attack thinking I’d lost my wallet. While I stopped for water, I noticed my bag was unzipped and let me tell you, for not being a runner, I retraced my steps and made my way back to the entry in 3 minutes flat after having zigzagged and meandered for nearly 45 minutes. I ended up tracking it down in another area of my bag and may have wept tears of blessings. I had legit questioned if a monkey was lurking in the trees and unzipping peoples bags.

While we waited for our trolley to pick us up, we had an opportunity to peek at the Kuan Yin Temple next door to the garden. A kind face invited my dad and me in while my mom relaxed on a nearby bench but we decided to hang out outside, I didnt want to disturb the peaceful gathering with our tourist shades on.

As we waited a bit longer, we listened to the chanting during thier service. Buddhism has always fascinated me, the same way Christianity does. Bodhi, my cat, is named after a Buddhist term meaning knowledge or enlightenment and I have an array of Buddha’s and singing bowls in my home. I’ve always associated Buddhism with peace and meditation. I hope I’m not far off or offensive in that assumption but I’ll add it to my long list of religions to learn more about.

The trolley brought us through Chinatown which is one of the oldest in the nation, though, quite small. The driver told us that that Chinese love to gamble and congregate in areas along a man-made canal even though it’s illegal in Hawaii.

We later drove past an incredible art district for what seemed like blocks and blocks and blocks. The driver didn’t make much reference to it or the history of the area but it was near the SALT Shopping Center in case you find yourself in these parts. I’ll have to sort through my photos and dedicate an entire post to the beautiful murals we passed.

We ended our day walking along and sunbathing on the sands of Waikiki Beach. We managed to find a less crowded area a ways down by a jetty. Locals gathered singing a capella in the background, played fetch with pups, and jumped from the landing, ignoring the signs that say otherwise. “YOLO”, I heard someone say.
Waikiki Beach is as crowded and filled with as much homelessness as people say but it doesn’t give you a weird vibe. It seems to be a chosen way of life verses back home.

I ventured off a bit on my own down the jetty’s narrow path to feel the waves of the Pacific crash into me away from the busyness of the beach. It was exhilarating. And salty.

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped to listen to another street artist by the name of Michael Zanderigo sing I Want To Hold Your Hand and Hallelujah while we ate the most flavorful shaved ice I’ve ever had.

Well, it’s just after 9:00 p.m. here and my parents are already sleeping. Snorkeling tomorrow bright and early! Mahalo for reading.

Day 1: Planes, Trains and Automobibles

And, how has my dad never worn a backpack?

The title of this post is courtesy of my mom mid-ride through the Skylink Light Rail in the DFW airport. We were shuttled at 4:30. a.m. by my loving (and I’m sure tired) brother, flew dang near straight south to Dallas, and then found ourselves on this bubble light rail thing. Later in the day, we’d fly again, Uber, and Trolley it up. The only thing we missed in this 12-hour window was a boat ride.

According to a quick Google search (because I can sometimes be an uncultured millenial never having seen the movie), the characters Steve Martin and John Candy play in PT&A find each other extremely annoying and somehow, they must overcome the insanity of traveling together to reach their intended destination, or goal.

Boy does that sound super familiar today.

To say today went off without a hitch would be a quite the lie. I mean, technically it did but I didn’t factor in #moods. Planner fail. I am by no means an expert at travel, I don’t think anyone can be really; there are too many variables. However, because I do all the research and want to know all the possible things, that does help me to be a better traveler. I don’t get flustered easily, I can roll with the punches, or gate changes or the lack of signage in an airport I’ve never been in and I can figure it out. I’m not afraid to ask random people questions if I’m feeling out of sorts and I don’t embarrass easily.

As expected, our travel day was a bit tense. My mom has never been a fan of airports and my dad has never really been on vacation. He’s not accustomed to the “go, go, go!” nature that it can sometimes entail. Today was filled with a few bumps trying to navigate the change of pace, the weather, and the scenery but after a trip around the Pink Line on the Waikiki Trolley, a taste of the sweet Pacific Ocean between our toes, and a street band performance by a girl no older than 12 belting out some song I’ve never heard of with killer chords, I’m hoping my parents can see the silver lining in the lucky lucky lives we have been blessed with.

I’m excited to see where this week takes us and how it’ll impact my parents view of traveling together in the future. For the sake of our sanity, I hope they breathe in the chill-vibe air here. Channeling all the “ohms” I can muster rn. 😌👌

A hui hou (until we meet again).

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.

Day 1: That airport life, though.

It’s nearly 5:00 PM and I’m at gate M20, terminal 5 in O’Hare. I’m tired and I’m hot. Why is it every time I visit O’Hare (this is only time numero dos), I have to walk thirty thousand miles? Gate M20 is the last M-gate at the end of a marathon length hallway with nothing to eat or drink. The struggle! But it’s whatever dude, I’m almost to Iceland.

YES. ICE ICE, BABY. I can’t believe it either.

On my trek back towards M-something-that-is-not-20 but basically at the beginning, I ran into this really cool couple. They were cool because they were wearing a light blue, almost periwinkle Schrute Farms sweatshirt. Why is that cool? Because I’m wearing the SAME exact sweatshirt. We have a club now.

I’ve also met a few people on my tour. Sue and Jim, they’ve been everywhere, man. I’m not kidding. Paris, Australia, New Zeland, Kenya, Egypt, China.. you name it. Oh Hawaii too; Greece next year. Sue doesn’t stop talking. Jim doesn’t talk.

I also met a chick named Valerie. I spotted her Go Ahead tag about 20 minutes ago but I didn’t know which level of creep was acceptable. Eventually Sue and Jim found her too and they connected the four of us.

That’s about all for now. I don’t know how much writing I’ll get done on this solo adventure. I received two travel journals as birthday gifts this year so I’ve packed one along. I have a feeling I’ll be writing in that and transcribing my ramblings into a blog format when I get time after returning home. I’m trying this really foreign thing called living in the moment. It’s pretty cool.

We board IcelandAir in about an hour or so. I’m going to catch up on an Elevation Podcast and re-fill my water bottle. Bless (bye in Icelandic).

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. ♥️

#Last90Days but like, my style.

So, to preface.. I know that Rachel Hollis/her cool hubby, Dave/The Hollis Co have a #Last90Days challenge. Did it start last year? Or is last year when all the people jumped on the badwagon? Either way, I was slow to the knowledge roll and didn’t get on board mostly because I didn’t hear about it until the end of October last year. Where was I? I couldn’t tell you. But I’ve heard of it. I know minimal information about it and I think it’s awesome that people are raving about their #Last90Days.

This year has come and just about gone too. But I’m not going to do the #Last90Days challenge because I don’t want to just do it because everyone else is doing it. I’ve been a follower more often than I’d like to admit in my life thus far. However, I am nearing age 30 here in a few weeks, November 9th to be exact, and I want to do something to wish my 20’s farewell and start off this next decade feeling like a million bucks, or close to it. My 20’s have been rough and while I’ve made a lot of progress over the last couple of years, a lot of this decade is overshadowed by sadness and not good feels. I want to change that before it’s too late.

I have a 30 before 30 list. Actually, I have a 90 before 30 list because I’m an overacheiever. (Or underahicever? Because I haven’t acutally competed my 90 before 30.) Backing up, in case you’re wondering why I have 90 before 30, let me fill you in on all that is Ori. I am SO indeciesive. LIKE. SO. INDECIDISVE. I can’t even pick out a super cute poof that I’ve had my eye on from Wayfair because I can’t decide if I want light pink or light blue (both match my rug) or if I want a round poof or a square one. Can someone pick for me, plz? This is why I enjoy exchanging Christmas gifts/lists because I can see something that reminds me of someone else and purchase it no problem but when it comes to myself? I can’t ever make a deicison.

So, ramble aside.. 90 before 30, what? I have a 30 before 30 for “Travel,” a 30 before 30 for “Lifestyle,” and a 30 before 30 for “Other/Hobbies.” Did your eyes get big? Mine did writing that. I know, forgive me, I’m aware of my obsessive list-like nature to control everything. I made this master 90 before 30 list about a year and a half ago, after a near decade long relationship ended. I forced myself to put my actual life in the front and center, THE STAGE IS YOURS GIRLFRIEND spotlight. 90 pretty hefty lifts in less then 2 years was stupid unattainable even if I had the means nessisary but whatevs. I know if I review my entire adult life as a whole, I should be impressed. I’ve crossed off far more things than I give myself credit for. I’ve crossed off things not even on my list and I’ve crossed off things I didn’t think I could.

I’m a badass. (And so are you, boo.)

This post is getting away from me already. What I’ve been thinking about doing is launching a “30 before 30” challenge for myself. 30 adventures or challenges or new things; cool things; something! 30 days of doing things that improve my life for the 30 days leading up to my birthday. BUT because I initially created a 90 before 30 bucket list and I keep hearing about this last 90 days of the year hoopla, why not combine the two?

So, I introduce you to: Last 90 days, but like, my style.

I’m not sold on the name but I’m rolling with it. I’ve already done so many AMAZING life-changing things and have so much more planned for the rest of the year. I don’t want to just zone in on the 30 days before my birthday and enter the new “birth” year without intentionally improving my life. That seems a little morbid. I’m constantly working on myself to improve my life but it’s just like the New Year; we get so excited for the New Year, we make lists and resolutions. We have all these dreams but how many of us give up by day 5? I don’t want to be feeling “meh” 5 days after I turn 30!

I want to start now. I want to live intentionally every single day. I want to start checking things off my stupid long lists. Lists that extend far beyond 90 and lists that I haven’t even written yet. I want to improve myself inside and out; mind, body and soul. I want to do things that freak me out a little like face my fears and call a therapist. I want to do things that I’m too ignorant to understand, like volunteer at a homeless shelter or provide food to those in need. I want to learn how to play the ukulele and declutter my closet and buy myself some GD flowers. I want to give blood and buy someone a nice dinner. I want to grow and lead my life with intention and purpose. I want to feel good about helping and giving; I want to continue to accept myself for who I am; to channel Lizzo’s #badassbitch vibes when I start body-shaming myself.

So, fuck it. I’ma do it. I might fail but I might not. How cool would it be if I can kick the last few weeks of my 20’s in the rear end like a sexy little booty slap on the ass rather than a whoopin’? AND welcome my 30’s feeling like I can achieve anything and everything I set my mind to? Old year, improving me; New year, even better me.

What I learned

We arrived home nearly a week ago from a much needed getaway to the furthest south I’d ever been. And as with all places, I can’t wait to return to Arizona one day. When I go again, I’d like to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. They were on my list to see this time but would have added a couple more hours driving during the first leg of our trip. Through a little research, it’s just as far to those areas from Vegas as it is from Mesa so when I book a trip to Vegas, I may opt to take a day or two detour that way.

I’d also love to return to Sedona one day. The city is surrounded by so much healing and peaceful energy. No wonder retirees flock there.

I read something recently that mentioned spending time with your mom helps her live a longer and happier life. Not only do I agree with that, but I think the opposite is true too. This was our 4th year of mother/daughter trips and each time I learn so much more about myself, about her, and about the world. More than I could have ever imagined.

This is the first trip we went on that I didn’t blog each day but if you’re reading this from my blog, I post-dated our adventures. I kept a running list and outline of all the feels and things we encountered so I could be more in the moment with my mom and less in the computer.


Something I haven’t mentioned in my travel posts this trip, was my moms health. Starting the first day of our trip, my mom experienced a shortness of breath but we weren’t too concerned with it. Or at least, I wasn’t. In my research, I had read that with such drastic altitude changes (the drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon specifically), we might experience some of that. To combat it, my reading told me to take breaks often, not to overexert ourselves, and to stay hydrated. All of which we did.

I didn’t have much trouble at all during the Grand Canyon adventure but looking back, she had made quite a few references to feeling winded.

Throughout the rest of our trip, this shortness of breath continued. She explained it like taking a big deep breath at the doctors office when they’re listening to your lungs but not being able to. Going through the motions of breathing in deep, but not being able to actually breath in deep.

Once we returned from our trip, back to our home level of flatlander altitude, she still wasn’t better. Trouble breathing paired with wheezing regardless of what she was doing. My mom did find herself at the doctors office after a couple days being back home. They gave her a steroid shot and a nebulizer treatment. They also set up up with an x-ray and an echo-cardiogram followed by making her an appointment with a pulmonary specialist because everything to this point came back inconclusive.

In short, she learned that her lungs are functioning at 68% capacity. At this time, it doesn’t sound like they know how or why this happened. Perhaps the sudden symptoms came on from the adjustment in air density or something else? My mom doesn’t think she’s ever been at full lung capacity; she worked in a factory as a young adult and grew up in a smoking household. With the shot and the nebulizer treatments, the doctors hope that her lung capacity increases. I believe she has a couple of follow up appointments and will be retested this summer to see if that 68% can increase to 75% or greater.

This situation put the blessing of life into greater perspective for me. While I learned a lot about myself on this trip, I unknowingly learned a lot about my mom and her level of perseverance. I internally applauded my mom when she unashamedly went swimming while on vacation and continue to be in awe of how she carries herself in the world, how she raised me and my brothers almost single-handedly on her own. While some people want to provide better lives for their children then they had, I want to grow up to be just like her. I want to love and be a positive influence for my future babies the same way she has been for me. I want to instill values and genuine goodness in them. I want them to look at me the way I look at her; forever in her debt. I’ll never be able to thank her, or my dad, properly for being our parents but I’ll forever know how incredibly blessed I am to have them both.

Day 4: That palm tree life, tho.

As first time car rental people, we, for whatever reason returned our vehicle a day earlier. Actually, I know the reason. We figured it’d be easier to return it now so we don’t have to have one more thing to do at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. We probs should have kept the rental because we may or may not have spent $65+ on Lyfts today AND we would have probably gone to more places had said Lyfts not cost so much.

But, we did have a pretty cool driver on one of the trips, her name was Yamil and she was pretty pumped that we decided to hit up In-N-Out, which by comparison is far tastier than Jack in the Box. Both, tbh, are a bit overrated but not as overrated as Chick-fil-A. Okay, that’s enough about chain restaurants.

By the way slash FYI, I think Arizona’s Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport only permits Lyft, not Uber, to taxi people to and from the airport. They have a monopoly of promotions in the bag claim area. I found it interesting. I didn’t bother trying to get an Uber just because I have both on my phone and figured if Lyfts bubblegum pink signage was going to be glaring at me, I should take it as a literal sign.

Damn, what a bunch of rambles! Ha!

Today was our chill day. We’re not here long and we front-loaded our trip with a lot of things in a short amount of time. The purpose of this trip was part to escape the cold and part to relax and breathe in fresh air. Because of that, we slept until we woke up and then headed to the hotel pool. The Arizona sky was a tad overcast and cooler than we both expected, I think. But we spent an hour or maybe a bit more down by the pool soaking in the rays of sunlight peeking through the clouds. We both swam and floated for awhile on this quiet Tuesday morning. It was nice.

I do wish I exuded the confidence my mom seems to have. We’ve both struggled with our weight our entire lives. Her, a little later in life than me, but still a struggle all the same. I don’t know if it’s an age thing or a feeling of security in life but she doesn’t seem to give a flying F what people think of her as a person, or even, how she looks. I mean, we all have self-esteem issues and a lot of us, women especially, struggle with our body image. My mom does too. But when it comes down to it, if she wants to go into the pool, she’ll go TF in the pool. I wish I was more like her. To say “who cares” if anyone sees you.

I, on the other hand, feel like I need to make a very strategic and well thought-out path towards the pool. Never embarrassed of my parents or others in life but always embarrassed of myself. Not only am I outside of my comfortable ‘spanx induced coma of regular clothes’ but I’m in a revealing swimsuit. My bathing suit is cute AF, not going to lie. But still not lying, it’s cuter on the bed next to a floppy hat and sunglasses than it is on me. I map out the path I’ll need to take to get into the water, scan the pool area to see what everyone is doing; I want to make sure literally everyone is preoccupied as I make my escape from sunbathing chair to the steps of the pool. I imagine myself getting up, how long it’ll take, how I’ll remove my shorts and tank exposing my swimsuit. I psychoanalyze what people will think of me or whisper to one another when they see me swimming with my big fat arms. I will not lifelessly float, belly up because #whalewatch.

I know this all sounds self-deprecating. It’s not meant to be. It’s more of a self-awareness exercise; an observation of how I view myself and assume others do to. Something I want to change.

Even with all that running through my head, I managed to get into the pool and loved it. I love the water and I love swimming. I’d swim every day if those insecurities didn’t torment my mind and emotions.

After we swam and sunbathed for awhile, we visited Hole in the Rock at Papago Park. We really didn’t know what to do today. There were loads of things I think we would have ventured to had I planned the day out a bit more and kept our rental but I think we ended up really enjoying this place.

Hole in the Rock looks “meh” from the ground but a spiraled hike up proves otherwise. The jaunt wasn’t too bad, honestly it was one of the easier ones my mom and I have done in the last couple years. Getting into the hole itself was more difficult than the climb. The view was pretty cool too. Being that high up and observing everything below really gave me a sense for how vast everything is in the world compared to what our eyes can see.

By this time, the clouds had parted from earlier in the day exposing a baby blue sky and refreshing amount of sunshine. After hanging out at the Hole in the Rock formation for a bit, we made our way back down and walked around the park, taking a break or three from being warm and a little afraid of heat exhaustion.

We found ourselves ending our trip in the park stationed on a cut down palm tree trunk fashioned into a chair. We were seated facing a pond and watched the duck families hang out and paddle their way across the cool water. We observed some people across the way getting excited about catching a few fish. We sat in quiet and peace for a bit just enjoying where we were at that moment in life.

Tomorrow we go home. This trip has been short, but it’s been good.

Day 2: It’s as if we were all just trying to slow down, let nature in, and quiet our restless minds.

If any a day to accomplish a whole lot of everything, today was it. Now, I usually post photos at the very end of a post but I have to break that self-made rule because today’s 5:15 a.m. wake time was motivated by the view below. This is Mather Point at the Grand Canyon. It was freezing. Like, right at or around freezing for realz. BUT so. freaking. worth. it.

To say the Grand Canyon is beautiful is an understatement. I really need to freshen up on my personal dictionary. No wonder this place has been named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. I have to be honest, while Arizona and more specifically, the Grand Canyon were on my bucket list of places to see, I had loads and loads more places on that list ahead of this trip. After today, I don’t know why. I genuinely believe that Arizona is one of the most underrated and breathtaking places I’ve ever been to (literally and visually). Everywhere I’ve been blessed with having the opportunity to go to, has been gorgeous; I can find beauty nearly every place I’ve been but holy shit to the GC. I had no idea.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, who knows? Am I THAT naive or can I blame a handful of cruddy geography and history teachers along my path of brain growth? I’ll play it safe and sit in the middle on that debate.

I’m going to keep today’s post as short as I possibly can because we covered A LOT of ground today. With that being said, we all know this is going to be long AF because YA GORL cannot condense anything. #teamlongstorylong

So, along with tons of other official natural wonders or not, the tourist scene is wildly organized at the Grand Canyon. There are three shuttle lines within the park (orange blue, and red). There’s actually a fourth line (purple) but that goes to and from Tusayan. We didn’t opt to do that. The cool thing about the shuttles is that you can hop on and off any of them. They each have their specific routes but there are a few opportunities to jump off one bus and onto another. They run pretty frequently too; anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

We first took the shuttle from Yavapai Lodge to Mather Point (where we saw that bomb ass sunrise). Then we took the shuttle from there all the way up to Hermit’s Rest. That’s the furthest west point on the South Rim. BTW, we were in the South Rim the entire time. There is a North Rim portion but that would have been a couple more hours to drive last night. From my research, the southern rim is the more touristy of the two.

From Mather Point, there were so many stops. We tried to plan our day out strategically based on reviews I’d read about but there was no way we’d get through the entire rim in the day. We took the good ol’ trolley through Market Plaza and the Village without getting off. If there was time later, we would. We did stop at a handful of places along the route up to Hermits Rest though. Hopi Point, Mohave Point, and Pima Point were my favorites. A couple of stops are super close together so you can walk from one to the other. At the end of this post, I’ll likely share a stupid amount of photos that may all look the same to you but they definitely aren’t.

What the photos don’t show or tell is how vast the GC really is. The day was a perfect 58 degrees. The skies, a sweet #5EADE5 blue. I’ve never been anywhere where there were so many people throughout but so little sound. It’s as if we were all just trying to slow down, let nature in, and quiet our restless minds. While it looked like an off-brown ball point pen line drawn into the canyons, it was so quiet that we could hear the Colorado River (can you spot it below?). My mom even dared to say that the Grand Canyon was more captivating than the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

One thing I haven’t mentioned but I did read about while researching, was the air to lung ratio, or lack there of. I had briefly read that those interested in hiking down and back up (those people are crazy and also my wanna-be spirit animals) should be warned of the altitude variations especially to those traveling from an altitude much different than here. And holy crap could we feel it. Even during the drive from Mesa north, we started to notice the change in altitude. The thinner air really did make it much harder to breathe. This effected my mom quite a bit more than me but we did make a point of taking our time and pacing ourselves throughout the day. I don’t know what kind of made-of-steal lungs hikers have but I want a sip of that medicine. The views we witnessed today were worth every single second of the 7000+ feet above sea level hikes we took today.

Once we picked up our jaws from the views along Hermits Rest, we hopped back aboard the red shuttle due east. We found ourselves a taco food truck in the Visitor Center Area and hung out enjoying the cool-to-everyone but warm-to-us weather. Did I mention our winter was brutal? 58 degrees felt like 90 but a good 90.

We finished up our day at Yaki Point and then decided to head back to the Yavapai Lodge area to make our way back south and over to Flagstaff. The only chunk of the South Rim that we didn’t get a chance to venture towards was Desert View. There is a watchtower up there that I would have loved to climb. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d have been able to because of the oxygen fun we were having but I’ll be making it a priority next time I visit.


I had no plans to see anything exciting once we left the Grand Canyon today. Really, can the GC be beat? We just needed to get to our hotel in Flagstaff but we managed to find some really REALLY cool pit-stops along the way. The trek from the south entrance area of the GC to Flagstaff is only about 90 minutes but it took us well over two hours. This seems to be a recurring theme for this trip. On our way, we found Yabba Dabba Doo Fintstones Bedrock City! Who would have thunk? It didn’t appear to be in working order anymore which really is a tragedy but a few cool photo ops were necessary.

Cue Williams, AZ. I’ve had so many “when I grow up” dreams, I could fill a book. Anywhere from a yellow brick road trail through the woods to secret garden as dreamy as the book I read until the pages were lose and watched in movie form back when VHS tapes were still cool. Today, I found another dream I didn’t even know I had and it currently resides in Williams. I hope my ‘somewhere in the future’ babies want a tipi in the backyard instead of a playhouse. The tipi below was a part of a little village touristy shop on the side of the road. I instantly thought of my niece Emma and how she’d love to have this all to herself in the back of my parents yard. I can’t wait to tell her all about it when I get home.

Lastly, before arriving in Flagstaff, we stumbled upon the sweetest little slanted church in the middle of the Coconino National Forest near the base of the San Francisco Peaks. At the enterance of this quaint and mostly deserted church, I had to duck to get in. As I walked around to the other side of the small building, I was greeted by an entire wall filled with glass. This place was remarkable. Could you imagine getting married here?! I would LOVE it! I couldn’t wait to read up more about this place once we arrived at the hotel tonight. Here’s an excerpt I found:

Chapel of the Holy Dove: In the summer of 1961, with the help of his sons and some hired hands, the 41 year-old Watson Lacy, with no experience as a builder, used explosives to create holes in the rock beneath the Chapel to secure and position the large Ponderosa Pine logs which comprised the original A-shaped structure framing the San Francisco Peaks. Local volcanic rock and petrified wood was used to build the supporting stone walls. The Chapel was completed in 1962. The beauty of the Peaks affirmed the goodness and majesty of God. They wanted to give travelers the opportunity to share it. –Ghost Town AZ

For anyone still with me, if time permits, I would definitely plan for a full two days at the Grand Canyon alone. I’ve shared more photos at the end of this post and I hope you love them as much as I cherish them. Our trip to AZ is a short one. Since we had such a ways to drive from start to finish, we wanted to make sure to see a few places on the way so we opted to cut our time at the GC short in order to enjoy the ride back to Flagstaff and tomorrow, Mesa. While it’s a bummer we didn’t get to spend more time further north, I’m glad we left when we did or we wouldn’t have been able to capture the awe these few stops along the way brought us. I don’t know where the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list, or Arizona for that matter but I would encourage you to move it up. Like way TF up. We have two more days in this lush state and I can’t hardly wait!

Day 1: Star Light, Star Bright

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I had embarked on a new adventure. Wait, it was just six months ago! If you live anywhere near where I’m currently living (NoDak), you’ll understand when I say this winter was LONG AF. Just about as soon as I landed stateside again in September, I began dreaming of my next adventure. I desperately need to go back to Europe but I’ll leave that for another day to ramble on about.

About half way through this winter, my mom asked if I wanted to get away and out of the cold. And YA GURL was like “yep.” Without thinking much about it, one of us suggested Arizona and we were both on board. This winter, really, has been draining. Not only have the snow storms put an emphasis on seasonal depressive moods but I busted up my knee twice in the last couple of months. Officially tearing my ACL and my meniscus in two places at the end of January. I have currently managed to forgo surgery for a multitude of reason and have thankfully gotten by with some PT and lots of rest. My knee is no where near 100%, maybe 60% on a good day? We’ll get there.

Enough about that. You’re here for an adventure and I’m about to deliver!

Day 1 is about as routine as day 1’s go, I think. Finishing up packing, because I’ve been a major procrastinator lately and stressing a bit about “did I plan this enough?” were the recurring themes of the days leading up to our trip. I’ve been on a continuous stress-boat of anxiety for a few months due to some work-flow changes in my job and it rarely lets up enough for me to indulge in a life outside of work. Which I know, is incredibly unhealthy, but I’m working on it.

For the first time ever today, I flew out of my local airport, Hector International. Also, for the first time ever today, every inch of my body was patted TF down like I was some sort of criminal. I thought I had this travel thing down. I’m extra cautious with the items I bring on board, my flying attire is basically PJ chic (yogas, sports bra, shirt, slides) and I still was patted down. I don’t know if it was a random spot check but it was weird. Up until today, I was almost weirded out about how “easy” it’d been to stroll through security checkpoints like it was nothin’ because it really was. I had nothing to hide and it’d always been a breeze. Now I know, the pat-down happens. You’ve been warned.

I’m tired and today wasn’t extra eventful aside from the frisk so I may jump around a little bit.

Actually, I’m going to bullet this shit out so I can get to sleep.

  • The people of Alamo as in the car rental service, are jerks. Don’t rent a vehicle from them. We stood in line for well over 30 minutes waiting for a vehicle I reserved. Once I got to the front counter, I was notified that there were no vehicles available. So like, wtf? I ended up dinking around at another rental car place but guess what? They didn’t have any vehicles either and so, head hung low, I returned back to Alamo with the intention of giving them a piece of my mind. Obviously with my mom’s help because lets be honest, she’s the confrontational one between the two of us when it’s go time. We ended up with a vehicle, not the one we paid for and one that will end up costing us more in gas than we had budgeted but it’s better than nothing. I guess.
  • The four and half hour drive (or so) north from Mesa was a beautiful one and filled with angels watching over us. Not only were the roads full of bizarre speed limit changes but we curved around one rock formation after another all the way up. The scary part about this is, I drove. If you know anything about me, two of them should be: 1. I’m a shit driver. And 2. I’m a shit driver because I love looking at all the things. I’m grateful my dad wasn’t with us. We’d surely have driven over cliff because he would have flipped at how distracted I was.
  • We arrived at the Grand Canyon and Yavapai Lodge well past sunset. (I just realized that I hadn’t told you where exactly in AZ we were headed. Surprise!) I was hoping to get a few glimpses of the canyons tonight but we’re preparing for an early rise in the morning so stay tuned. I didn’t know this until I arrived, but Arizona has more certified “International Dark Sky” places in the United States than any other state. This made it a bit difficult to find our actual lodge without streetlights to guide us but we managed. Believe it or not, I do remember the days of finding a place on a map without Siri directing me where to go. I have lived in a city for quite some time so I don’t get to observe the stars as often as I would like. It’s really one of my favorite things in this world. Tonight, I was able to do that for a brief time and am so happy I did. Obviously cameras never quite capture the night sky the way we see it but if you look close enough, you’ll see the Big Dipper in one of my photos below.

That about sums up our day. I feel so lucky to have my mom as my travel partner. Traveling isn’t always rainbows and sunshine but having someone along that can take the good with the bad really makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying the greatest treasures in life.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to our Guardian Angels today for keeping us safe as I drove around admiring this lovely state. The land that is Arizona is truly a beauté so far.

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. ❤️

The Ghost of Christmas Present.

I put my Christmas stuff up today.

I didn’t put anything up last year because my heart hurt so much. My heart hurts right now too though. I love every single thing that takes place the last two months of the calendar year. The magic the holidays bring makes my soul light up with warmth that lies dormant throughout the year.

I love the lights and the spirit and the snow. I love buying gifts for those I’m close to, decorating the tree, holiday parties. I love the food and the feeling of memories being made.

I thought this year would be easier than last and honestly, I know it will be. I thought that everything was going to be okay, that everything is okay because I’m okay.

But why do I find myself laying on my couch, eyes full of the biggest tears, feeling the need to write this sappy post with 3% battery at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night? I’m cozied up here next to Bodhi, my fake fireplace is crackling with seasonal spirit, and I’m watching the ninth Christmas movie this week.

I am okay but I’m really not.

The holidays haven’t even begun yet and I’m already getting pre-emo over the beautiful families in the Christmas cards I haven’t seen and the oh so romantic engagements or weddings.. or babies being born. It’s like I’m giving myself fair warning of what is to come.

I know it’ll be fine and I’ll find the happiness for those around me; fill my heart with glee for the genuine joy others are experiencing because that’s what you have to do. Fake it ’til you make it. Or some shit like that. But I haven’t found a cure for a heart forever broken from something it never truly had.

I can do this being alone thing for however long the universe thinks I need it. It just really really sucks sometimes.

What a difference a week can make.

Last week was filled to the brim of social interactions, after work happenings and overall glee. To be fair, it was my birthday week BUT I actually had no plans for my birthday to begin with, which was Friday, until a friend asked what I was doing. I was like, nothing, I don’t think? Not because I’m a sourpuss, because I’m not. But because I didn’t want to bother anyone.

Sidebar: I’m totally aware of this, but I sometimes get in these funks where I don’t know who is there for me. Who wants to be a part of my life. Who thinks about me in general. I wouldn’t call this situation a pity party, because trust me, that’s totally different but it’s a legit thought. I feel like I think about what everyone is doing all of the time. My parents, my brothers and the lives they lead, my closest friends, my colleagues. I think about people all. the. damn. time.  But (in the most un-pity party of ways, seriously), I doubt I cross the minds of others as much as they cross mine and that’s totally fine. I think I’m wired weirdly in that aspect so I’ve never expected that level of thought from anyone else.

Anyway, with that being said, I just really didn’t want to bug anyone last week. I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to hang out with me just because it was my birthday. I want people to hang out with me because they WANT to.

This post is getting away from me.. What it came down to was nearly every day last week, I had plans. Which was odd and cool and ‘ight with me.

This week couldn’t have been further from the opposite. I don’t think I’ve said more than 15 words any day after regular business hours this week. Home, work, home, work. I’ve been moving around just as much as last week though. A couple days this week, I’ve put together my IKEA purchases from the weekend and last night I rearranged my garage for some godforsaken reason. What’s different this time around of having a very quiet week, is that I’m okay in my quietness.

I’m finally okay.

For months, I’ve been trying to surround myself with positive energies because I really don’t like to be alone and I have been alone for awhile now. I don’t like loneliness, I don’t like being by myself. That doesn’t mean that I want to go be out and about all the time either. I think what I truly miss, is companionship, and just having someone that I know is there for me, that I’m their #1.

I’m not sure I’ve ever truly been anyone’s #1 even when I was in a long-term relationship but you know what I mean? Everyone has someone that is “most important” in their lives. My mom has my dad. My brothers have their spouses/families. Any friend or co-worker I have in my life is in the same boat; lives outside of whatever friendship we have (which is normal).

I think what I’m realizing is just so much more obvious at this moment in my life. I’m the only one in my world that is in my spot or stage of life. I’m sure this isn’t unique but my over-analyzing self sometimes gets so sad about this. I’m the only person I know that doesn’t have a spouse or children or a BFFL or what have you. I’m here in this world alone.

Again, getting off track. What I’m trying to get at is, I’m finally okay being by myself, I think. Maybe. Right now at least, I am. The quietness hasn’t made me sad or given me the level of anxiety as it has in past. Is this what healing feels like? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want this quietness to last forever. If I had two very quiet, no social life or interaction type weeks in a row, I might fall into another slump but this is progress!

What a difference a week can make.

Day 13: That airport life, though.

Series of events:

  • Leave Academy Plaza in Dublin at 7:15 AM.
  • Board AirLink bus stop 747 at 7:35 AM.
  • Arrive at Dublin Airport around 7:55 AM.
  • Go through clearance and U.S. Customs pre-clearance over the next hour. Or so.
  • Board our flight DUB > ORD around 9:10 AM.
  • Depart Dublin Airport at 10:12 AM.
  • Watch a few movies, take a short nap, and fly back in time, like they do. For 8ish hours.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 12:15 PM.
  • Find our gate, grab lunch, stay preoccupied during a 5 hour layover.
  • Connecting flight pushed from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • Flight delayed again.
  • And again.
  • And again.
  • Gate change + another delay.
  • Another gate change.
  • Finally board ORD > MSP just before 10:00 PM.
  • Pass out on said flight.
  • Somehow manage to drive to the hotel feeling sleep deprived and maybe a bit disoriented. Now, I cannot sleep so I’m here, writing this post nearly 25 hours after I woke up. Does it make sense? Eh.

Tomorrow, we head home after a much needed massage and zen hour.

I hope to write one last post closing this series but I may not do it for a few days. I’m going to spend the last couple days of my vacation catching up on sleep and hanging out with a few of my favorite people. Oh, and snuggling up big time with my lil’ bug, Bodhi.

To those that have kept up with reading this incredible adventure of ours, thank you! I’m seriously thinking of doing a solo trip soon. I’ve always wanted to but have been sort of terrified of it. I think I’m ready to conquer it! Where should I go next?!

Day 6: The Ring of Kerry

Boarding the kelly green Paddywagon Bus with a giant leprechaun head on it at approximately 8:20 this morning, we set even further west then we were when we awoke and headed towards the Iveragh Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry was our destination. I’m sure my friend Wikipedia will give you a better description, but the Ring of Kerry is a twisty, curvy, super duper narrowly thin stretch of road that loops around all of the most amazing views you could ever dream of when visiting Irelands west coast. It’s said that this same loop was taken by the Vikings back in the day when they were being buttheads and invading Ireland.

We started our day in Killarney or as Mike, the 2nd singing tour guide we’ve now had, calls it, ‘Larney.. Killarney, and so many other towns and villages we’ve visited, is bright and full of color even on the most rainy of days like today. I wonder if this is intentional? I guess Ireland gets rain 225 days a year, on average. I think I’d need a bright colored door and even brighter painted home as well if I lived here. Or rather, when I live here.

We had a handful of stops today. Some, we had enough time to take in our surroundings. And unfortunately some, we did not. Our driver stopped in the village of Sneem, the town that sells a lot of ice cream. No joke. While most of the bus lined up for some Irish Cream (I swear, I didn’t mean that to sound as bad as it does), I wandered around in the village park looking for a 4-leaf clover. I picked a few 3-leafers; I’m not sure I’ll be lucky enough to score a four but I have a week left!

My first view of the Atlantic Ocean, actually any ocean, was at a stop somewhere along Dingle Bay overlooking the peninsula and Inch Beach. We pulled along side the road where a local man was sitting with his goat, weaving Bridges crosses. To some, water is just water. The ocean looks the same as Lake Superior and Lake Superior looks the same as Lake of the Woods which looks the same as the Mississippi. To those people, I’ll proclaim fake news all day.

The views I had today of the Atlantic Ocean looking over Dingle Bay and then again in Waterville and Ballinskelligs Bay were next to none over and over in such a short time. One panoramic view isn’t like the other and no shot (or video) I could ever take would do it justice without being there yourself. The small islands that are scattered around the big island we’re viewing from have so much history; most of which is untold to tourists like me. It was all just so incredible.

The last stop of the day was Killarney National Park, home of the Torc Waterfall. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love exploring the state and national parks in the States and today was no different in Ireland. The only park stop on the tour was the waterfall specifically so I didn’t get a chance to explore much but we did have a short hike of about 200 meters up to the falls from where we parked. By the time we arrived, the rain was coming down again (I’d been off and on all day), so the dirt incline was a little on the slippery side. But the hike up there in the rain was so worth every second of “ope!” I whispered to myself as I almost took a misstep. Have I mentioned that waterfalls are probably my favorite thing in this world? I hope you enjoy my photos from today. 🙂

Day 5: No, Nay, Never!

We’re running a little low on energy today. I think it’s a mixture of getting used to the time change, the various activities we’ve been partaking in, and the ever-changing weather.

Today was a semi-travel day. We made our way early this morning to bus stop 325 otherwise known as 704X by the locals. Good thing we listened to the GPS and not the front desk dude at checkout!

The walk to the bus stop was about 15 minutes and we crossed over Lake Liffey for the first time by foot. It’s even more beautiful while walking at our own pace vs the pace of the tour bus yesterday.

The ride to Cork was about three hours. I’ve always been cool with long rides as long as I’m not the one in the drivers seat. I planned to read and/or write a little bit; look through the photos I’ve taken, etc. My body had different plans. I’ve never been one to be carsick but I was getting queazy from the drive today and I fear it’ll be a recurring theme for the rest of the trip. Closing my eyes helped but it wasn’t until we arrived in Cork that I began to feel better. Anyone have tips to prevent this from happening?

We walked a few blocks to drop our luggage off at Jury’s Inn on Anderson’s Quay and then ventured out to explore the quaint streets of the city in what is known as the Rebel County for a bit before ending the day early and taking some time to relax at the hotel. Perfect timing too because it’s been a rainy and blustery day today. It sounds like we were on the tail end of Storm Ali in and around the entire southern portion of Ireland.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish songs that we’ve heard on our trip so far. It’s been stuck in my head all day and I hope it’ll bring you as much joy as it brings me!

Day 4: 2B anyone? Or not to be.

Our first truly full day was packed with more options to do than time to do it; something that’s preferred in my book. I’d rather have too many things than not enough.

We hopped aboard our aptly named Hop On, Hop Off City Sightseeing Tour and were greeted by the singing tour-guide I remember seeing on the brochure. Jackpot! Declan was his name and covering Elvis Presley perfectly was his game.

Declan, the tour-guide, was wonderful. He displayed the Irish kindness and humor you read about and even though it was his job to go through the talking points of the tour, we learned a bit about him as a person, as well. His wife died of cancer a few years ago and his daughter was recently diagnosed with the same sickness but she’s thankfully doing well and is strong. Declan also made reference to growing up in Dublin and how he’d suppressed a lot of the horrible things he’d seen, up until recently. He mentioned the frustrations and annoyance he had with the Pope paying a visit to Dublin a couple of weeks ago and how he worked through it among other topics. Even providing the struggles he chose to share with a bunch of strangers, he had the most delightfully jolly of personalities. It just goes to show that no matter who you are and what is behind you, it’s our choice to make the most of every single day. If I learn nothing else in life, I hope I’ll always remember Declan, the songbird of his generation.

We hopped off at a few places today. First, was Dublin Castle. We toured the main part of the Castle, The State Apartments and The Castle Gardens. Construction on Dublin Castle began in 1204 and was finished around 1230. A timeframe that I can’t even make sense of. Until now, the oldest buildings I’m sure I’ve ever seen have probably been homes built in the late 1800’s.

The Castle is just as intricately designed as I imagined it would be, both inside and out. There’s a grand staircase leading to a formal dining room. The actual name of this room is The Portrait Gallery. I should have counted the seats and the paintings, but I didn’t. Beyond the dining room was the Throne Room. Queen Victoria sat in the throne when she visited the Castle as did Kings before and after her. The last time a monarch sat in that throne before Irish independence was a few years short of the first World War.

There was a long hallway and some additional rooms in the area that we toured. They are mostly used now for displaying various mediums of artwork which I enjoyed taking in. We then made our way through the Castle Cafe and meandered around the The Castle Gardens basking in the beautiful and (per the locals, unusually) sunny day.

After leaving the Castle grounds, we walked a couple of blocks up the hill to see Christ Church Cathedral and Dublina. The cathedral was under some sort of construction in the front of the building and service was in session so we just went ’round the outside. The cathedral is connected to Dublina, a stop that turned out to kind of be a dud. We pulled the typical tourist card and were like “Oh, lets check out this super cool looking building and learn about the Viking and Medieval history of Dublin.” Meh. I did decide to hike up the 96 steps for a good view overlooking the city. The guy at the front desk talked me into it. #doitforthegram

We also hopped off at Guinness for a quick look around. I tried it, guys and gals, Guinness.. And I’m not a fan. I didn’t expect to be either but you know what they say: “When in Rome!” Or rather “When in Ireland, do as the tourists do!” Why do I always give into social norms? The walk around the Guinness Storehouse grounds were worth checking out though.

Without question, the best place we stopped today was Glasnevin Cemetery. The cemetery holds over 1.5 million graves and as morbid as it may sound, is absolutely breathtaking. Any photo I could take wouldn’t give you nearly the scope of the feeling you get when visiting the cemetery. Both my mom and I enjoy going to cemetery’s; I think we always have. I used to visit my grandpas grave a lot in Warroad growing up and we did a Ghosts and Graves tour of Minneapolis a few years back.

The O’Connell Tower overlooks the entire cemetery and beyond. Although it seems obvious that it’s the focal point, it’s just a small part of the grounds. There of dozens upon dozens of crypts and mausoleums that have been on display for hundreds of years and thousands of family graves that seem to be intertwined together. I could have spent an entire day here, if not more, providing we had the time.

Tomorrow, Cork. Are corks made in Cork? That is the question.

She don’t see her perfect, she don’t understand she’s worth it.

He tells me that I’m beautiful and that I’m pretty. That I make him smile and laugh and give him all the tinglies. He tells me that I’m amazing and kind, wonderful even.

So, why does it seem so unbelievable? Only princesses in fairytales are given that kind of admiration. Only in movies and in my favorite novels would feel goods like that be said. Anyone who says they don’t like compliments is a liar, myself included. Hearing.. or reading those types of messages wakes up the butterflies in my tummy that I didn’t know were there; it makes my heart glow and fill with warmth.

But it also hurts.

Until you, the only people that have ever said those types of affirmations to me would be my family. Those that have to because that’s how families function. Sort of like telling your best friend she still looks like a firecracker the morning after she rolled in from some dudes house, mascara smeared and hair unbrushed. A white lie with the best of intentions.

So when you say those things unprompted and unexpected, I don’t know what to think. Or how to react. A simple “thank you” or “awww, shucks” could do the trick but this is one of those things that I can’t brush off. You’ll say it again and again until I believe it. Because you think that one day I will.

But what if I don’t and what if I won’t? If I pretend you don’t say things that make me feel whole, maybe it won’t hurt so badly when you get sick of me.

But how does she get there?

How do you keep your guard up when all you want to do is let it down? How do you keep your heart safe when its sole purpose in beating is to love and be loved?


On one hand, she’s never known what it’s like to be loved. After all, her only experience probably wouldn’t be deemed a “love” by those in an expert field. Sure, she has loved. She has loved and lived and sacrificed and compromised to the point even of it significantly impacting her view of how false the definition of “to be loved” would be described.

And on the other hand, she has been loved but not the kind of love she deserves. Not a love that can withstand the turbulence of a lifetime. Not a love that can resolve disagreements peacefully and challenge her in the best ways.. instead of the worst.

Now, that the old love.. or love not is in the rear view, she can see what love is supposed to look like. She notices the simple kindness people provide to one another, how easy it is returned. How compliments are given so effortlessly and how dissimilar views can turn into a healthy discussion rather than a predator vs prey situation.

But how does she get there?

How does she keep her guard up when all she wants to do is let it down? How does she keep her heart safe when its sole purpose in beating is to love and be loved?

7-11-2008

Today used to be a day I looked forward to. Thinking back, I’m not quite sure why because it was always more important and meaningful to me than to anyone else in this world. I’ve always made holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries a big deal. He never did. No one ever does. I’d come to believe that I don’t deserve whatever it was I’d hoped for. But year after year, I’d still think it’d be different.

We were *this close* to hitting that 10 year mark. Can you believe it? After all we’d been through? Is that even a thing to say? After all we’d been through? Should you have to “go through” a lot to deem something worth staying in? Either way, I couldn’t do it anymore. I’d given up far earlier than I had even admitted to myself but was determined to make it work. What else was there out there for me? Who else? How many people would I be disappointing by breaking off an engagement? How painful was it going to be to see the dreams of becoming a mother and owning a home slip out of my fingers because I gave up? How deeply was my heart going to hurt accepting the fact that I’d be so alone for an undetermined amount of time? I’m glad I didn’t know the answers to those questions at the time because if I did, I never ever would have left.

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve been all over the place. Was there more good than bad? Was this a mistake? Questioning everything. Depending on the energies in my mind on any given day, the answer differs. Overall, I know it was the right move. If anything, it should have been sooner so I could be over and done with this desolate time in my life. Wasting a half year away already swinging between the abiliity to function through a long-lasting situational depression and anxiety-ridden days of “when will this end?”

What I do know for certain is that I wasn’t happy. I try to remind myself of that daily or when I get down. I can’t explain it any other way than that and I know relationships aren’t designed to be rainbows and butterflies, believe me.. I know. But they do require an equal amount of committment and comprimise from both parties of which always teetered one way and not the other.

The last few months, I’ve been trying to rack my brain on how to move past whatever this lull is that’s happening to me but I’m struggling on figuring out how. Nearly 10 years is a long time especially when it started at age 18. I don’t know how to be or how to function properly as I should. I’m too attached, still, to everything. Every moment and memory, every day and night.. nearly every single one has him in it. It’s impossible to erase them all.

I’m not hung up anymore. Afterall, I’m the one that left. He’s moved on and I’m happy for him. Well, I say I’m happy for him. Sort of like a fake it ’til you make it kind of thing. But I am happy for him. I’m happy that he isn’t stuck inside a dome of lonliness like I am, at least I hope he’s not. Throughout my decision of leaving, that was my biggest priority. To make sure he was going to be okay, to make sure he had a place to go and live and to make sure he had the support system he needed. I needed to make sure it was all going to be okay for him before I could leave. But I forgot to make sure I was going to be okay.

So over it, self. So. Over. It.

I am somehow put together by million little pieces. They often stick together perfectly and than out of no where, they don’t. There is this mix of crippling anxiety paired with a ripple of depression.. both full of denial rolling in without warning, interrupting my spirit.

A negative stigma around mental health that I’m so painfully guilty of not understanding is hitting far too close to home. It’s happening to me.

I push it out of the way but eventually the impenetrable wall won’t move anymore and I just feel so broken. I am so broken.

I want to be okay like I used to be. I want to regain control. But just as I think I’ve gotten there again, another wave hits and I’m drowning all over again.

It’s always hurting, my heart. I’m just always hurting.

When you’re alone, no one ever asks if you’re okay or how your day went. And if they do, do they care about making it better if it’s not all sunshine and happy thoughts?

In the beginning, I needed to remind myself to breathe in and to breathe out. I needed to remind myself to put on a smile because it’s too hard to explain how I feel. And in the off chance I forgot to smile, it hurts just as much knowing whoever you’re talking to is ready to change the subject.

Some days, my entire drive to and from work is full of tears and flooded with good memories making me question everything. Or bathroom visits for the sole purpose of pulling myself together.

Everyone else is moving and I’m sitting still to the point that I wonder if my psyche is in retrograde. This constant hurt and loneliness is crippling me. It was almost easier when it all this happened because everyone was checking in, making sure I’m okay. Listening; offering advice and glimmers of hope. I can’t even seem to become the person I know I am because my decision to walk away is still effecting me every single moment of every single day.

I don’t want to talk anymore than you want to listen. But I need someone to hear me and to genuinely tell me it’s going to be okay. To believe it. And I need a hug. A real, full of so much love, hug.

I’m stronger than this. But, how long does it last?

Sometimes.

Some days go by so fast that I’m not ready for them to be over. Some weeks I have more things to do, more plans, more people than I know what to do with. Sometimes I wonder when the last time I had a night or two of nothing to give myself a minute to breathe. Some nights I don’t even remember what it was like to be with someone because my days and nights and mornings are filled with pleasant distractions.

And then some nights.. I feel like I’m the only one in this world that is alone. The only one that doesn’t have a person. No one to turn to, no one to have lunch or dinner with, no one to go to an event with or to seek advice from. No one to share my successes or shortcomings with; or selflessly love me regardless of the comment that comes out of my mouth next. No one is there to send stupid memes to or literally chill while watching Netflix. No one is around to be on my side always, to love me forever, to know me better than I know myself, to get me the way I get them. I feel so much for so many people all of the time but I’m afraid no one in this world will ever feel ‘so much’ for me.

And if you’re asking, the answer is no, I don’t miss him anymore. Each month that passes, my eyes are more open to the red flags that lingered around far too long. But I do miss the companionship, the personal cheerleader, the presence of another human. I miss knowing that I could say and feel and act however I wanted and I wouldn’t be looked at the way a stranger would look at me. I wouldn’t be judged or questioned or ridiculed the way a friend or family member would judge or question or ridicule me. I miss knowing that I had a person. A non-perfect in nearly every way, but a person nonetheless.

The emptiness and void doesn’t seem to go away. Perhaps it’s masked by all the “stuff” I have going on in the spurts of too busy to think but when the slow times come; when nothing is happening and no one is around.. it hurts. All of it, everything.. hurts. The feeling of standing still while everyone else, everything else is moving on.. it’s so real and it feels as if there’s all this noise around but eerily silent at the same time.

Some days I say goodbye to everyone at work come 5:00 and don’t say another word until ‘good mornings’ 15 hours later. Some weeks I wish people would do what I wanted to do or say what I needed to hear instead of it always being the other way around. Sometimes my tears are too big and the room is too dark. Some nights I wonder if I’ll ever feel better.


About This Post: For so long I’ve been writing in a personal draft without publishing anything. It’s nearly 20 pages long. Full of ramblings and sadness; memories that are good, bouts of depression from both sides.. Moments I knew it should’ve been over, doubts I had never said aloud. From day one, I’ve had so much to say but didn’t dare say it thinking if I at least get it down and out, I’ll feel better. Similar to the concept of writing something down and burning it forever. It doesn’t work. I didn’t want to hurt anyone or damage anything by writing it out on a blog that I’m sure no one reads. But the more that time passes, the only person I’m damaging at this point by keeping all of it in, is myself. Thank you for reading. More to come, probably.