The Well, a poem.

The wells in her eyes are usually dry these days but that neverending heartache still remains.

It’s the girls in cute summer dresses that flow so beautifully in the sunshine filled air that make all the boys blush.

From the outside looking in, they seem so pure, so much more deserving. They are more flirtatious, more worthy, more incredible than she’ll ever be.

It’s never her.

It never has been and when the Cinderella reality strikes at midnight, it never will be.. this dream she’s had for longer than her first move.

It’s the ones without a cause who get the most love, that get the attention.

It’s the surface level, nice-bodied, mind-game playing gals that land the gents.

It’s a two-way street though, this I know.

Dating today isn’t really even a thing, it seems.

Instant gratification, constant affirmations from strangers, and a no-strings-attached policy are the rules of the game.

If you’re not willing to play, a left swipe is all it takes to forfeit your role.


It’s the healers and the lovers and the girls like her who are used up for a short time and left again.

Almost as if she’s a pit stop on someone else’s lonely day.

A girl left behind to scoop up the broken little pieces of her heart all to put on a shelf destined to get dusty in order to help someone else whose heart feels so overwhelmingly heavy on any given day.


The wells in her eyes often find tears but she won’t allow anyone to see them.

She’s resilient, she’s not as broken as she seems.

Or that’s what she tells herself anyway.

So why does her heart hurt so much that her stomach aches and why do the tears only fall down when the lights are off and the room goes quiet?

Why in such stark silence can she be free enough to hurt?

Because darling, she is no one’s everything and she knows it. The odds are against her in every single little way.

See, this loneliness she feels has always existed but is rarely acknowledged.

She’s too busy trying to prove her worth to boys interested in the pretty filtered girls rather than to herself.

It’s the ones who recieve all the attention that get it and it’s the ones who need to be loved that remain in the hollow wet walls of a well never filled.

Butterflies + Red Flags, a poem.

Contrary to popular belief, they say that the feeling of butterflies in your stomach isn’t nessisarily a good thing.

While they are to be perceived as feel-good smiles that you can’t help at first, if they linger for more than a couple of dates their purpose changes.

Something to the effect of self-inducing, anxiety-ridden security alarms going off inside of our bodies.

Butterflies at the beginning are nothing to be concerned about, they say. But they should diminish as you fall in love, I guess.

If they don’t go away, red flag.

And if we’re all being honest, there definitely is a difference between those feel-good butters we feel at first and the danger flies we decide to ignore.

Victims of narcissistic lovers please stand up.


But, riddle me this..

What is the significance of those butterflies spreading their wings and migrating to the heart?

They (whoever “they” is) don’t say anything about butterflies in your heart.

That’s the thing, they don’t say anything about them because I don’t think it happens all that often.

A heart full of monarchs is as rare as a celebrated jubilee.

It’s raw and pure; the anxious alarms of what hung out in our stomachs are so far away, it’s inaudible.

Butterflies only settle in our hearts when it’s safe, right? Almost like a reverse metamorphosis.

The butterflies diminish because there’s no longer anything to be nervous about, you’ve found your person.. in theory. But they are always there, as if they’re cocooning, hibernating.

“They” should write about stuff like that because the heart butterflies feel so different than the stomach butterflies.

The key difference, in fact, is when the wings flap at just the right second, you find yourself in the eye of the storm rather than the arms of the hurricane.

Danger, regardless, and still a red flag.

I may not be a doctor, but I’m an expert at being fat.

I went to a doctor today, one specializing in weight management. It was a referral and I think this will be one of the most difficult posts I’ll ever write so I might as well jump right in.

At the start of the year, I figured I’m not getting any younger and should establish a primary care physician for the first time in my adult life. That chick was cool and I’m glad I did the research to find the perfect PCP for me. From that appointment, I received a couple of referrals for additional avenues I wanted to go down; reproductive medicine and weight management. We’re focusing on the latter here.

Prior to today’s appointment it may help anyone bothering reading to know the thousand-foot-view of my history. I’ve been overweight in some capacity most of my life. It wasn’t a post-high school/freshmen-15 type of weight gain. Nicknames like “Oreo Fat” started circulating circa 1997 aka the 1st grade. Kids are great, aren’t they?

I grew up in a world full of blonde Barbie dolls and mom’s to match. Not only was it a severe character flaw to be red-headed and freckle-faced, but it was even worse to be fat.

Time passed, bully’s (even though I hate that term. Little assholes is a better one but I digress) came and went. While I didn’t think so in the moment, I did thin out at certain periods of time growing up; 6th grade rings a bell for some reason. I think that’s when I hit my peak height, 5’8″.

Even though my past self at age 16, for example would be considered normal size now, it wasn’t then. The societal image of beauty was defined as rail thin bones; think Paris Hilton and Mischa Barton on the red carpet. Anything other than that in my small northern Minnesotan town (or otherwise) was deemed unacceptable.


The first time I was put on a diet was the summer after 5th grade. I stayed a good chunk of the summer, if I remember correctly, at my aunt’s house a few hours away. She was a Weight Watchers leader at the time and drilled WW into my 11 year old little skull the same as if I was a 35 year old woman. Diet #1: Age ELEVEN.

It worked, obviously. I lost weight that summer. I was a thinner version of myself come fall when school started. More self-confident? No. Happier? No. More friends? No. But I had collarbones.

The rotating door of diets began so young that it scares me to think I’ve been conditioned to be mindful of everything I put in my mouth and what I look like for decades. I’m only 31 for fuck’s sake. And since then, I’ve tried all the things. WW, Jenny Craig, juice cleanses, intermittent fasting, exercise, pills, starvation. You name it, your girl has tried it. And they all work, for about 30 pounds of trying, give or take.

I sometimes think people see me and think I’m lazy or don’t believe me when I say I’ve been trying [insert diet or routine here] for awhile now. I might not look it but I do know what I need to do. It’s more math than it is science to me, I get it. And while I’m fat, I’m not blind. I can see the “oh really” and “you poor thing” sparkle in your eyes.


The really awesome thing about a blip of culture today is the #BoPo aka body positivity movement taking off. For the first time in the history of my life, I see people all over the internet flaunting what their mama’s gave ’em. I see women (and men) of all sizes not giving a damn F what society thinks. Living, dressing, acting, however they please in the bodies they were blessed with, take it or leave it. And I’m here for it! I LOVE seeing people unapologetically embrace who they are, how they are, and what they are. I want to know whatever magical fairy dust they found to garnish that kind of confidence! Seriously, please share.

However, while any improvement is leaps and bounds beyond what I had growing up, some of it stings worse than the ghosts of past and present.

I do genuinely believe people of all body types go through bouts of insecurities. The #BoPo movement sometimes, like 40% of the time, is so full of shit though. I said it. So often, it’s just another filter to pretend behind. Showing a before and after photo of you sitting in two different poses proves that your biggest fear on earth is to be fat. Well, try actually being fat.

  • Pose 1: You’re slouching, your bikini bottom is cutting into your hips, your hair is a mess, and you’re making a gross face. You look sluggish and tired, obviously.
  • Pose 2: You’re sitting straight, sucking in, and positioning your body at some perfect angle and the sun hits your jawline like it’s a diamond. You hiked up your bottoms to accentuate your curves, plumped up your boobs, let your hair down and threw your head back laughing. You look hot AF. No shit.

You think you’re telling your followers that it all has to do with an angle. You’re not fat, you’re just posing wrong. The thing is, girlfriend, you weren’t fat to begin with. You can pose the shit out of me and I’d never look like that.

Now, this is just one example of many where thin or average size people want to insert themselves into a movement meant to build people up, not tear them down even further. But by pointing out this example, I’m the asshole. I’m the one body-shaming. It’s so far from that though.

I recognize that thinner people can have body dysmorphia just as severely as someone who is fat. Mid-size bodies can feel groggy and bloated just as much as any other body type. Super duper thin or super duper tall people can have a hard time shopping for clothes. People of all shapes and ethnicities can have stretch marks.

But if you’ve never legitimately struggled with weight, it’s simply not even in the same ballpark; it never has been and it never will be. I just wish there was some sort of universal definitive distinction between being skinny-fat and the actuality of being fat-fat.


This brings me to today: referral day. I’d waited nearly 3 months for this referral appointment. In the meantime, I started (kinda) working with a trainer. She provided me with an exercise a week and I committed to working out 2-3 times per week on my own. I’ve stuck to that and found consistency which is pretty damn awesome and worth a pat on the back if I do say so myself.

She also started to work with me on some healthy eating habits. That’s been going okay-ish. I’d say my weeks are 75% successful. But I struggle with binge-eating on the weekends because I end up making up for being so “good” during the week by overindulging on Saturday. How fucked up is that?

I’ve lost a little weight since then, nothing noticeable or really worth celebrating but I am feeling good with the lifestyle choices I’d been making on my own in preparation for today. I was really looking forward to sitting down with a professional to talk about everything. My history, my issues, my binging, my sleep habits, my progress, all the things. Right?

Wrong.

Before we dove into anything, she suggested surgery as the only route for me to lead a thinner life and I backed that train way the fuck up because #cuewaterworks.

Surgery is not new information to me but it’s a non-starter. I won’t get into the nitty gritty today but it’s a “no for me, dog” for a multitude of reasons. Not only is it in my file but I told the nurse less than 5 minutes prior that I’m not currently considering it. I want to have a healthy and constructive conversation about my health, about ALL my options; not the one you are going to pressure me into. I want to discuss sustainable ways to survive, I want to be mindful of the choices I make. I do not want a “fix” without resolving the underlying issues. I shouldn’t have to explain that to a medical professional. But I did.

To top it off, I have no desire to “be thin” and she’d learn to know that had she bothered asking what my health-related goals are. Just because I’m in a weight-management clinic does not confirm that I have the desire to look like a Hollywood actress. And how much more of a confirmation of how unrealistic and disgusting my body is than by a doctor suggesting gastric bypass before even asking what I’m doing right now to better my health?

Sure, I do want to lose weight but not because I have an ideal figure in mind. I want to be healthy, live a healthy life. I don’t want my weight or health to limit me in any capacity or adventure that life has to offer. I want to carry babies safely; I want to love the body I have been blessed with, regardless of the number on the scale. Surgery alone simply will not do that, medical degree or not.

What this doctor failed to understand is that it took me YEARS to even convince myself to seek and ask for a referral to be professionally evaluated. Between tears, I tried to explain how embarrassing it is to have to deal with this. Have to think about it every day. How painful it is to compare myself to every other woman walking this earth.

Her response: If you had high blood pressure, you wouldn’t be embarassed.

You’re fucking right, I wouldn’t be. Because high blood pressure is not mocked and taunted in the hallways between class. High blood pressure isn’t a make or break to being asked out on a date. High blood pressure isn’t the reason you hate what you see in the mirror. High blood pressure cannot, in any world, be compared to being fat in the modern age.

Not only did it take me years to get myself to the doctor, but she doctor-splained to me about how fat people are fat. It’s all science.

Bullshit on all of that, respectively.

I may not be a doctor, but I’m an expert at being fat. And you cannot tell me that the mental aspect to the “chronic disease” I suffer from is not relevant or valid. Yes, it is science. But it’s also math. It’s also psychology. It’s awareness. It’s so much more than being predisposed.

Why do you think so many people who have elected to get surgery have gained the weight back? (More power to you if you did and kudo’s, this is not a diss on the choice. I know many people personally that have gone this route.) Because the underlying issue was NOT addressed. The emotional aspect, the trauma, the reason why you eat or binge or throw up.. It was not addressed.

And it needs to be.

I need it to be.

Maybe I sought guidance in the wrong avenue. I was under the impression that this was going to be a comprehensive consultation keeping in mind that holistic lifestyle change approaches were preferred and medical intervention was a last resort. I was wrong and that’s on me for assuming.

The resolution to today’s appointment was a prescription to two medications; a hunger suppressant and a craving suppressant. I think it was her way of meeting me in the middle. I don’t doubt that this medication could help with the hunger and cravings but it’s not tackling what’s going on at the root and I struggle with the lack of empathy I experienced today.

“Here, take these pills. You’ll lose weight. And we’ll talk about surgery again next time.”

“Cool, thanks.”

I hope I can look back at this a year from now with a big “FU” to the gal who told me today that the only way to a thin life is by cutting my stomach in half, literally. I hope that someone who actually can relate to some of this finds this and doesn’t feel as alone. Because even with all the really awesome body acceptance stuff going on, I still find it incredibly difficult to sort through and actually find women that “get it.”


Four final notes:

  • The last thing I want to do is offend anyone who is or has ever tried to contribute to the #BoPo movement by sharing their experiences. I believe in woman building woman up and know that insecurities, trauma, and self-loathing comes in all shapes and sizes. Your thoughts and feelings are just as valid and relevant as my responses to examples I provided are.
  • While they are sometimes difficult to find, there are some really badass woman on Insta that I follow and genuinely love. I encourage you to look ’em up (and plz share in the comments who else we need to know about!): @brenzaart, @sassyconfetti, @tessholliday, @thefatsextherapist, @swipefat, @lizzobeeating, @ashleygraham, @niccinunez, @visiontwins (guys not gals but still great).
  • Loving thyself is a lifelong journey. This post isn’t a cry for help or even a pity party. However, I don’t have a single person in my everyday life that can specifically relate to the issues I have run into with fatphobia and fat-shaming. From a childhood of mean girls to finding clothes that fit the fashionista you are; from the realization that men either like what they see but are embarrassed of you in public to not being attracted to us all together. I hope this reaches at least one person that can be like: PREACH GIRL.
  • Lastly, I know the doctor I saw today was “just doing her job” but quite frankly it was done without tact, consideration, or proper evaluation for my circumstances. Fat people have been treated unfairly and had problems minimalized in both society and in medical offices for decades. It’s getting old.

Anyway, thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Home is where the heart is

We’ve heard that phrase so many times throughout life but it wasn’t until this past year, that I started to understand it better. My home has felt like a prison more times than not in this weird time we still seem to be in. I’m sure most, especially apartment dwellers and singletons would agree. Honestly, even those with roomies in the form of spouses and kiddos probably could get on board with that feeling.

An uncomfortable case of recurring situational depression and a never-ending anxious mind has been ever-present in this hurricane of a pandemic for me. It hasn’t been cute. Most people don’t even know who in their lives are hurting because even though we live in this “woke” modern age, feeling sad is still taboo to a lot of people.

So what does this house on stilts have to do with anything?

Last week, I took a staycation to this treetop cabin in the woods properly nicknamed Kløver Nord. I’ve actually been doing pretty okay as of late but I felt regularly over-worked and all too often underwhelmed. I felt too busy and not busy enough at the same time. Restless and sad and angry; an emo kid with sensitivity issues. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I work and live in the same space every single day and while I do count my blessings for having a job through all this crap, it doesn’t mean everything has been rainbows and butterflies in life.

If nothing else comes of it, I’ve learned this past year to listen to myself and my needs; to slow down. To recognize when I need a breather or when I need my people. To slap myself out of a pity party, to take responsibility for how I’m feeling, and to make corrective actions to better my quality of life.

Next week will mark one year of working at home. One year of reminding myself, sometimes daily, that I don’t want to live and breathe as a worker bee, letting my dreams slide to fulfill the agenda of someone else’s. It’ll mark a year of hills and valleys that would make the most accomplished of hikers question if it was worth it. But it also marks a year of really finding things to love about myself, discovering new hobbies, meeting incredible people, and going on adventures in so many different mediums. I’m excited for what lies ahead.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’ve been feeling not so great as of late or maybe for the last year.. I hear ya. I see ya. I really don’t wanna be ya. But I do hope you can find the thing you need and have the resources in some capacity to press pause and run away to a cabin in the woods. Or wherever it is that your heart needs to be so you can refresh and fill your cup. Because whether you realize it or not, we need you and all the “stuff” of life will still be here when you get back.

A wandering thought-bubble and writer’s block walked into a bar..

I’ve been suffering from a rather mild case of writer’s block lately. The last handful of posts I’ve shared, while heartfelt, were more forced than flowy. Yes, even the one about my favorite little five-year-old. I found myself wanting to write the last couple of months or so with a purpose at hand but when it comes time to take a seat, nothing comes out the way I envision it. I don’t know what that means. Writing has always been my outlet, even pre-blog. I’ve never been impressive off-the-cuff but I’ve always taken pride in what I can scrounge up if you give me a few minutes to breathe and organize my thoughts.

I’ve found that, over the years, my best writing comes from a place of pain and heavy-heartedness which, makes sense. I mean, even as a child, I’d put myself into a corner to write out my feels because I felt so broken from the child-size versions of Karen’s and Terry’s out there taunting a kid who desperately just wanted to disappear. I never even wanted to be seen in that way or to be one of the cool kids. I simply wanted people to be nice; something I thought everyone was born with, kindness. I found out that wasn’t really a thing and if it wasn’t possible, I wished people could just pretend I didn’t exist. I think I figured if I was invisible, it’d be easier than being ridiculed for looking so differently than the stereotype.

The thing is, I know I’ve come a long way since the days of summertime sadness. Of winter and fall and springtime sadness, too. While I may not be totally healed from the bummers of my childhood, I eventually figured out a way to overcome it and adopt a treat-everyone-with-kindness mentality, most of the time. But that, too, has gotten my heart into trouble.

The details aren’t nearly as important as the grief of realizing how mishandled your emotions were relationship after relationship, friendship after friendship. I learned how to show empathy and help people when they’re down but that only later put me in situations where I tried to fix people that were broken from their own unaddressed trauma. And the thing is, no one tells you that you can’t cure people that aren’t ready to travel down the yellow brick road of healing.

Those experiences taught me to keep my opinions to myself, they taught me to be quiet, they contributed to the diminishment of any self-esteem I bothered mustering up as a teen and young adult. I often found it hard to connect with girls; I still don’t know how to actually have a female friendship. Don’t come at me for this but woman are complicated. And mean.

I know it probably doesn’t make sense but all of this feels like some sort of twisted mind-fuck ripple effect.

Our parents start us out in this world with so much hope and joy for what their babies will grow up to be, maybe even how they’ll be. But so slowly, one small action causes another and another. The first weird look or hurtful thing turns into more than you can count on your fingers and toes. I’d rather have sticks and stones be thrown because contrary to the popular lies we’ve been told, words really do hurt. Pretty soon, those little babies are so self-aware and self-conscious of so many things that they don’t quite know what’s right and what’s not; what’s normal and what’s weird. When did all that happen? How?

Sometimes I wonder if parents-to-be ever think about the balance between protecting their children from the hate of society and allowing it to happen, because it will. Even the most sheltered of kids eventually are subjected to it.

Anyway, isn’t it weird? I often wonder if the reason I’m an perfectionistic constantly-observational overthinker with niche nerd pathways and anxiety-ridden tendencies is because of something that happened in 2nd grade. Or when I was 15. I wonder if I’ve always had the spirit of a vagabond and the mind of an organized spaz by nature, or by nurture. I wonder if I feel like I’ll be alone forever not because I’m not capable of loving but because I’m unbearable to be around. And why would that be? Is it because I gave too much of myself to other people throughout my time here on earth; like the wishes of a dandelion being blown in the wind?

The thing that really gets me though is while my best writing has always come from a place of hurt and I’m far more healed now in life than I ever have been in 31 years of millennial existence, I still experience all sorts of wounds in my wanna-be-tough-girl mind on a way-too-often basis. So why have I found it more difficult to write lately?

These wounds, they are more streamlined now though. Through a whole lotta faith and a little bit of therapy, I’ve had an opportunity to deal with some really crappy shit head-on. Which has been fulfilling to work through and overcome but where does that put me with the thing I enjoy most, writing?

I think I really just want to be heard. My whole life I’ve felt both seen and unseen at the same time. Seen for reasons I didn’t want to be and unseen because no one quite understands me. I figure if I spill my guts out to a white page somewhere on the internet, what? Someone, somewhere, will finally be like “girl, I get you.”

What a wild dream that’d be.

For Emma

You’re a whole handful today, can you believe it? I called you last night to wish you an early happiest of birthdays because you were heading to your mom’s today and you made sure to remind me that yesterday wasn’t it. You’re birthday wasn’t until today. So literal, so honest. You get that from your grandma Julie and it’s just the tip of the iceberg of qualities that I’m so grateful you hold.

Emma bean, you constantly encourage me without even realizing it; to be the most true and authentic version of myself that there is. Because you are. You are unapologetically fearless in life and in essence. You both laugh and dance as if no one is watching. It doesn’t matter who’s around you, you are you. You’re not afraid to let people know when you’re hurting. You’re not cautious to let people see you giggle or act goofy! You inspire me every single day to live with a courageous and lionhearted spirit even though I’m not with you most of those days.

My wish for you is to never lose sight of that magic in your life; to never stop dreaming, never stop wishing, never stop living. I’m not sure you’ll ever truly grasp the magnitude of influence you have had in my life and in those you’ll impact as you age. But when I grow up, I really do want to be just like you and when you grow up I hope that you want to be just like me.

You’re my reason for allowing myself to find my worth in this world. You’re my reason for adventure. For running instead of walking. You’re my reason to trust and love and pray even when it feels too hard to do so. You’re my reason because I want you to know, without a doubt, your worth in this world is greater than you can imagine. I want my love for a life full of quality, strength, distinction, and sense of wanderlust to ripple tenfold from me to you.

I want to protect you from all the pain in this world but I know that’s not realistic and honestly I think people need to go through pain in order to truly empathize with others so I know it’s gonna happen. But I hope between all the hard stuff, you’ll feel the sprinkles of virtue and warmth. You’ll know that I’ll always pick you up when you fall and be the person you can run to when you feel like you have no one, because it will happen. I hate thinking about it, but you will have some really crappy days and I’ll be here to remind you that life doesn’t end when the crappy days begin. Every single day of your life, I hope that you continue to wake up and choose to be the good in the world.

I can’t imagine a day where I don’t encourage you to strive for the absolute maximum of what you deserve. I can’t imagine watching you come down on yourself so hard that you feel like you’re drowning. I can’t imagine you ever feeling unloved, unseen, or unheard in all the ways that I have. But I do I hope you’ll know how many life-preservers in the version of people disguised as angels you have to save you when you feel lost or broken.


Emma, today you turn five! You love unicorns and kitty cats and sprinkles and slime. When we take pictures together, your first instinct is to close one eye and stick out your tongue, like a real-life emoji. You get excited when things shimmer and your personality flourishes more and more each day. You like to write and to draw; you’re an artist by nature. You love to use your imagination and honestly, you’re probably smarter than I’ll ever be.

One of my very favorite moments of year four with you happened this past summer. We were at a park here in Fargo with your dad, Uncle Nick, and Auntie Katie. You were playing and you met this little girl named Remy. But you didn’t call her Remy. You kept shouting “friend! friend!” She kept reminding you that her name was Remy, as if you’d forgotten and I even recall saying “Emma, your new friend’s name is Remy.” And girl, what you said to me in return is something I’ll never forget. Your beautiful four-year-old soul of a girl turned around and said to me “I know her name is Remy but I’m calling her “friend” because I want her to be my friend. I want her to know that she is my friend.”


To close, my birthday wishes for you are for you to live a year filled with happy thoughts and sunshine. I hope you continue to be the reason people believe in kindness even when people show you how rare of a quality that is. I hope you never stop loving people even when they let you down. I wish for year five to be filled to the brim with unicorns and kitty cats, with 4-wheeler rides and grease-filled fingers after helping your dad and grandpa Kevin in the garage. I hope your days are jam-packed with jumping on the trampoline in the summertime and splashing in the puddles when it rains. I hope you continue to make your daddy smile everyday because not only did you change my life but you changed his. I hope you never lose sight of who you are. I hope to see all of the dreams that you don’t even know you have come to fruition, I hope to show you the world, and I hope to help you know how incredibly good God is.

Until I met you, I’d never experienced the ability to love someone so fiercely as I love you, Emma. You are my favorite blessing and my greatest gift in this world. I wish you the happiest of birthday’s on your actual birthday!

Love, Auntie Ori

Fast Girls + Clydesdales

Today I lived in little blips of soon-to-be memories that I know will last with me far longer than they will with you. I wish my mind wouldn’t continue to bring that realization to surface.

Today we slowed down for you. In a world that is always buzzing, always moving, and never having enough patience, we slowed down in time, in spirit, and in space.

Today we laughed with you as you cracked jokes and we giggled like Emma does when she thinks something is the absolute silliest. And today we listened to you.

Today I bore witness to a version of you I thought had faded long ago with all of the other pieces that have. It seemed so foreign yet so familiar; your smile and your humor. Without anyone really being able to recognize when everything started changing, I saw parts of you that never actually left.

Today your quips and your wit were top shelf, grandma. Top shelf. Your smile accentuated the beautiful porcelain skin I’ve watched age in such a remarkable way and your eyes didn’t feel so tired when I looked into them.

They were only blips, though.

Today wasn’t constant. You were both present and so lost. My heart aches when I see you sitting in your thoughts of worry and confusion. The empath within me wants to help but the introvert knows to give you that space. It’s hard to watch you feel.

Today the smiles of fifteen minutes prior felt like a lifetime ago when your eyes filled and refilled with tears the size of rain drops that you refuse to let fall.

Today I was reminded of how strong you think you need to be when it’s okay not to be. Why does anyone need to be strong; why can we not just be? Why do you have to work so hard to be silent when all you want to do is hear and be heard?

Today, for the first time in my life, I asked if you pray.

They were only blips, these slices of time in the day. Already, they’re moments turned memories that I worry we’ll remember differently, if at all.

Tonight though.. tonight I will continually pray that your prayers are heard and count every blip as a blessing.


A little over a month ago I wrote a piece about my grandma within the series “Holidaze” covering both the joys of the holiday season paired with a memory-crippling daze of confusion. If you’re up for it, you can check out that post here.

I didn’t wake up like this.

The first photo in this post is a pre-my-brother’s-wedding trial makeup run back in August because I’d never had my makeup done before and was nervous about it. Jordan with Grin & Bare It absolutely killed it. She made me feel beautiful and see myself in a way I never had before. She made me look on the outside how I felt on the inside.

I know this isn’t my real, everyday-life look. I could never do my eye makeup like she did and for the first time ever, I was able to say my eyebrows were on fleek. (Dang, I feel old actually typing that out.) But seriously, the day that I got this done, was such shit and I’ve been trying to figure out since then how to talk about it.

I was in yet another 2020 slump for like, the fifteenth time in however many isolating pandemic-y months. Feeling alone, hating my body, constantly frustrated and forever sad, or so it seemed. I was making excuses for myself and throwing a daily pity party about everything in life I either didn’t have, couldn’t do, or was jealous because of.

I was feeling all of the feelings about all of the things but I tried my best to “hide” it all. I constantly feel like it’s either too much for anyone to know and be burdened with or I put this unrelenting pressure on my shoulders to remain positive while everyone isn’t, at least on the outside.

I’ve looked back at the photo above dozens of times since I took it. On one hand, I wanted to share it because I loved the photo. I actually felt like a bomb ass bitch and Good As Hell after this. It was like a pretty face could wipe away all of the insecurities and feelings of worthlessness that the day held. But, on the other hand, I didn’t want to post it because it was only temporary and it was just another perfectly angled selfie.

I didn’t want to only share half of the story. You know? The filtered version. The face-shot. I don’t know what the right balance is. I don’t want to share every detail of my life on the ‘gram because for one, it’s not that damn interesting and two, no one wants to hear me whine about my insecurities day in and day out. When I am in those down-in-the-dumps days, looking back at the things I’ve shared actually do help me. The unbelievable places I’ve been to, the moments of pure joy radiating from my nieces four-year-old little self.. The adventures I’ve been on, the people I’ve met.. They help. If I looked back at a feed full of full-body shots accentuating every single thing I hate about myself, it wouldn’t help lift me up so that’s why I don’t post stuff like that. Yet. I do opt to be rather vulnerable in many of the posts I do share via the captions, at least. It’s a start. But, how many people scroll through Instagram as if it’s a picture book, neglecting the story? I’m guilty of it.

That’s the part I’m still working on. Finding that balance. And not by the way of “omg is my social media too filtered” but really working at what’s going on inside. That’s the thing that I only recently started addressing in therapy; my immense sense of self-hate and embarrassment.

I tried the whole fake-it-til-you-make-it thing. I tried daily affirmations, not looking at the scale, went on a follow-binge of body positive influencers. I even tried not looking in the mirror for two full weeks in August. This summer and early fall, I focused on fitness harder and more seriously than ever before in my life and did a pretty damn good job, if I do say so myself thanks to the encouragement of some really incredible humans. But, that didn’t change what I saw in the mirror. The scale moved then, which felt good for the one second a week I looked at it but nothing changed internally.

They say that it doesn’t really matter if you are curvy or thick or fat or whatever cringe-worthy descriptor you choose, if you can’t love yourself as you are now, you’re not going to love yourself when the weight comes off. Ouch. That hurts to hear over and over again. As our queen Lizzo says, though, Truth Hurts.


When my brother and his wife got their wedding photos back, I was mortified. I know what I’m about to say is sprinkled with selfishness but I genuinely felt like I ruined their wedding day by literally being in it, because of how I looked. A pretty face didn’t hide the fact that that’s all I was, all I am. All I think I am. I pick and choose what version of myself I let sit on the internet, requiring tagged photos be reviewed before they show up on my timeline. The queue of unpublished photos is ridiculous. I purposefully don’t post full-body shots because body-dysmorphia is so fucking real, guys.

I usually see thin women make reference to it, BD. Detailing out the struggles they face when they look in the mirror and their feelings are so valid, they are. But it’s not the same. The freshmen 15 amount of hate and disgust when you look in the mirror is not the same as the decade-115. Flexing in one photo and unflexing in another whilst looking identical in both photos is not the same. It’s just not.

I don’t see people like me on the internet. And the BoPo influencers that are around, they love themselves. Or appear to. They’ve accepted their bodies as they are and embraced it. They don’t give an F about societal norms and fitting into a size 6. I mean, maybe they do. Honestly, it does appear to be quite unavoidable but they own the crap out of the bodies they’ve been blessed to live in and they are gorge inside and out.

When I share my insecurities with others specifically about being overweight or not loving the body I’m in, a typical response is to tell me I’m beautiful. But the thing is, I didn’t say I’m ugly. I said I’m uncomfortable in the body I’m in, in the shell that holds all that I am. But I’m working on overcoming all of that. I’m trying to believe that people don’t just pay compliments to pay compliments. I’m trying to remind myself to say “thank you” instead of “whatever.” I’m listening to my therapist and treating myself with the grace and kindness that I treat others with. I’m trying all the things and feeling all the things so that I can be all the things.

The photo below is from yesterday. A makeup-less selfie that I wouldn’t dare post on social media until now. It’s taken from the exact same spot in my apartment as the top photo in this post, just 4 months later. It’s still just a headshot and not a body shot but it’s a step. The difference between these two photos is more than just four months.

It’s hours of tears in front of my computer with a counselor I’ve never met in real life. It’s dozens of pages in a journal trying to pinpoint the exact moment that I was first tormented in elementary school because of how I looked. It’s sitting in silence to allow myself to grieve and forgive those that have hurt my heart. I grew up in a town full of blue-eyed and blonde-haired little girls who were born to shine, whose mothers didn’t teach them to be kind. I grew up hating my name and my hair and my freckles and my body. I grew up feeling ashamed that my parents didn’t have the money to pay for me to pretend to fit in. I grew up full of angst with no way to define it or deal with it. Until now.


It’s still just a selfie. But, I feel more confident, more sure of my worth, and more compassionate towards myself in the photo I took yesterday verses the one I took four months ago.

A week from now, everyone is going to be posting about how much 2020 sucked and they aren’t wrong. It really has been quite shit. But, I started to love myself in 2020. I’m still alive in 2020. I’m forgiving myself for myself in 2020, accepting myself. This year has been filled with more sorrow, more conflict, more death, and more division than any year I’ve been alive, perhaps topping 9/11 if I dare compare. Even that event brought the country together while this year has quite literally broken the world’s heart and I for one am trying my very best to find the silver lining in it all the only way I know how, self-care.

I didn’t wake up like this. It’s taken me years to even address the issues at hand, my insecurities. But I will love myself as I am now. There really isn’t any other choice.

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. ♥️

Angel Kisses, a poem.

I hated my freckles when I was young. Among other things I couldn’t change, I was bullied constantly by little boys and girls who would make fun of my polka dotted skin.

My mom used to tell me freckles are love in the form of angel kisses from above.

She also used to say that I’m surrounded by angels all of the time.

When I was feeling sad or anxious or alone, there’d always be an angel nearby wrapping me in guarded love.

Preserver of my hopes and dreams.

Protector of my fears and of those little kids turned adolescents.

Angels listen to the wishes upon stars we cast out and are the defenders of our easily broken hearts.

Some say the safety net of angels cannot be seen but I disagree.

These guardians are sometimes found in the form of kisses masked as freckles that pop when the sunshine meets a face.

Too Much, a poem.

She’s afraid that she can be herself and you’ll still love her.
She’s afraid, because that’s never happened before.
She’s let people in, just little bits and pieces of “in” and they’ve left. They always do.
But you don’t.
She feels like she’s too much.
She feels too much. She cares too much. She thinks too much. Her heart is too much.
That’s what it is, really.
A classic case of: It’s not you, it’s me.
But for real.
You’re different to her; an unusual specimen that doesn’t seem to be running away when her “too much” comes to surface.
The smallest and itty-bitty-est of thoughts of little nothings pile up until they are a something.
Not because she’s keeping track, but because she’s still afraid.
She’s afraid that she can really, truly be herself.
She’s afraid that she trusts you too much, because she is too much.
And you’ll still love her.
Because really, this isn’t the kind of love that she thought she knew.
This love is true and honest and not afraid to back down.
This love makes her feel safe.
You make her feel safe.
She doesn’t know what it’s like to be loved unconditionally.
But you show her everyday that it’s her reality.
And the only thing to help calm her down when those itty-bitty-est of thoughts pile up is to remind her that she’s okay.
And to breathe.
And that you still love her.

But how does she get there? Pt. 2

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 easily 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 to be loved?

The answer appears to be quite simple. It starts with time and it ends with trust.

She will get there and every step will feel like a mountain climb. The variance between the peaks and valleys will make her question why she started, why she’s trying but every now and then, she’ll reach a summit and find this sense of peace. A self-applause will ensue.

Every now and then, she’ll see that the glimmer of love she admires in everyone else’s lives doesn’t seem so distant in her own.

And she’ll fall, oh man will she fall. The valleys are where she’ll really learn as if pairing time and trust like the most decadent of meals. The time in the valleys and in the past are the often-over-looked hors d’oeuvres while self-reflection and prayer is the main course in life and in love.

One day, she’ll finally reach the top of that mountain she’s been climbing. She’ll finally reach the most sweet of desserts in life via growth and because of time.

She’ll trust in it all. Trust that it’s finally time to rewrite what her history book says about love. She’ll see that love truly can withstand the test of time and compromise. That disagreements ending peacefully isn’t just a dream.

She’ll see. She’ll see how difficult it can be to keep her guard up when all she wants to do is let it down because she finally feels safe. She’ll finally be able to set her heart free because it’s sole purpose in beating is to love and be loved, by him.

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.

The Quarantine Diaries

A PREFACE

While on vacation with my parents in Hawaii in late February 2020, we toured Iolani Palace. In true tourist fashion, I walked around with my backpack strapped in the front because those were the rules and ya girl is a type-A rule follower. We took the service elevator to the 2nd floor. In that elevator, while I didn’t recognize the impact in that moment, I had officially seen my first Coronavirus propaganda posted. I think my dad took a photo. Jokes were had.

Prior to vacation, the reports of COVID-19 were minimal, I think. Or at least minimal to me. I wasn’t worried about my vacation being cancelled like I would have been had we booked it just a few weeks later and I definitely wasn’t worried about my health. Like many, I was likely in denial of what would soon become a world-wide pandemic.

In the weeks following our return, the news about COVID-19 seemed to double over each day if not triple. No one knew what they were talking about. Medical professionals opinions varied, no one knew which news outlet to trust, people probably still don’t.. you get the picture. 

Government on the local, regional, national, and even global level didn’t know what the eff they were talking about and if you’re reading this post mid-2020 or later, bets are we still don’t know what tf is up. I mean, for good reason I guess. I don’t have the Golden Book of knowledge either but whoever does probably didn’t plan for a 21st century worldwide pandemic. Hello, God? 

I’m writing the preface of this post on Friday, May 1st. I live in North Dakota, one of two states (I think) that didn’t actually mandate a stay-in-place order. Yet. Though, we might as well have. Everything, like all the other states, have been mostly closed or if they are operating, they are open for curbside only services. Life is thy halted as the great W. Shake would say. 

Apparently, Doug B, our governor, “opened” up the state effective today. Whatever that means. Even though it wasn’t closed to begin with, right? But okay. That really means nothing to me. I don’t have any immediate plans to spread my wings quite yet; something you’ll likely learn if you dare read this entire post. 

I recently listened to an episode of Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. She interviewed David Kessler on grief and finding meaning. Boy, that episode hit.my.feels. I’ve gone through many stages of grief since the start of the ‘rona. Stages that I’ve only processed once before in life but on much different grounds. 

And this, my friends, is a record of that grief in a social media-esque post-type format. Enjoy.

MARCH MADNESS aka WTF is happening?

  • 3/2: I washed my hands today. Did you?
  • 3/12: Trying to decide if I should go to the store just to take my own photo of an empty TP shelf or if I should hang tight at home with my Costco bulk pack I bought 3 months ago..
  • 3/13: I actually do need to go to the store for a normal amount of food but I’m afraid nothing will be there because people are freaking TF out. Dominos for dayz, I guess.
  • 3/14: Seriously considering booking a trip back to the wonderful, warm, and wild island of Oahu for $298 round trip. Why is everyone freaking out still?
  • 3/15: According to all these graphs, literally every person on the planet needs to get COVID-19 before it goes away. Accurate? Asking for a friend.
  • 3/16: At what point are they going to address the mental health side effects of a forced quarantine? My work is encouraging us to work from home and I live alone. The CDC is recommending social distancing for up to 8 weeks, maybe longer. Public events, church, and businesses are closing. That amount of isolation makes me want to contract the virus just to get it over with.
  • 3/20: Have you thanked a trucker today? They’re busy being the real MVP’s while you’re sitting at home freaking out over which roll of TP to use first. Jokes aside, people all across our nation, including my dad, aren’t offered the “luxury” of social distancing or sheltering in place. They are on the front lines of restocking all the Lysol you were panic buying, making sure hospitals have hand sanitizer, and I’m sure are ready and waiting when they figure out the ventilator shortage situation. Keep them in mind when you’re three hours deep on an apocalypse Netflix binge because many of them fall into the “vulnerable” class COVID-19 is after and they can’t do much about it.
  • 3/21: Day 1 of isolation. Most of the team/office is working from home this week but I didn’t give in. I worked from home on Thursday just because but went in yesterday. I’m not going to work from home. I really don’t get what the appeal is. This is being blown out of proportion.
  • 3/22: Day 2 of isolation. I only tuned into this press conference because I thought something new was going to be announced. I don’t want to hear about the 856,934,540 surgical gowns that were delivered. Save the stats for infographics, Mr. President.
  • 3/23: Day 3 of isolation. It’s PSA Time: In regards to local news and media, the more “views” we get does not mean our journalists get paid more. We’re actually losing money in relation to this specific topic. We have a paywall on our websites (that generates revenue, yes) however, due to this “crisis,” we removed our paywall for all COVID related content as a public service. On top of that, many advertisers are cancelling campaigns. We are losing money, not making money just like the rest of the country. Also, true and reputable news outlets are not blowing things out of proportion. Naïve Facebook users that don’t check sources and blindly share “fake news” articles are the ones blowing it out of proportion. Don’t hate on legit journalists or question their morality. They are keeping you informed, damnit.
  • 3/24: Day 4 of isolation. I brought my computer home over the weekend. If everyone else is working from home, I suppose I will too. It’ll be too quiet in the office. Though, it’ll be too quiet at home too. Which is worse? A quiet small space or a quiet large space? My grow group met online for the first time tonight. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend even though that makes no sense.
  • 3/25: Day 5 of isolation. I don’t like working from home with my laptop so I went in to get my entire set up; monitors and all. There are few people in the 5.5 floor building. I briefly visited with a couple colleagues as I gathered my things. They were the first people I’d interacted with from a distance in nearly a week. It wasn’t natural and I felt distantly weird. Also, apparently liquor stores are considered “essential.” I don’t think so but, whatever.
  • 3/26: Day 6 of isolation. This week in solitude, I’ve ordered an embroidery kit, polyhedral dice set, a D& D for beginners handbook, mini clothes pins, a record player shelf, and a cat condo plus some other shit. Quarantine is going to drain my bank account.
  • 3/27: Day 7 of isolation. First breakdown. I’m a sensitive person by nature but even more so when left to my own devices. Other than a brief interaction on Wednesday, I haven’t seen anyone in a week and I’m beginning to feel the effects of no human interaction. A small remark from a co-worker via chat set me crying off and on the entire evening. Between controlled breaths trying to calm myself down, I was reminded of how this old post feels, felt, does feel now.
  • 3/28: Day 8 of isolation. I needed groceries so I went to Walmart. I stayed clear of people as advised. It was weird, I felt weird. It was like I was in a film where you’re all alone and the world is moving around you. I was so excited to go to the store after being held up in my home for a week. I haven’t showered in a few days, that’s not good. But I am doing better emotionally today. The only noticeable change in the world was at self-checkout. The cashiers wiped down the register between people. No one is wearing masks. This all still seems so ridiculous. Is this just an inside joke that I wasn’t included in on? On a positive note, I exercised and ate well ALL WEEK. Today is my cheat day.
  • 3/29: Day 9 of isolation. Tested positive for perpetually sad.
  • 3/30: Day 10 of isolation. Therapy today via webinar. I’ve only been going to therapy for a couple weeks and this was the first one online. I like my therapist just fine. It went well and I feel a bit better but I wish she was there when I really needed someone over the weekend.
  • 3/31: Day 11 of isolation. A thread I needed to see today. Maybe you do too?

APRIL SHOWERS aka Girl, I’m an emotional wreck.

  • 4/1: Day 12 of isolation. Thank you, Twitter for analyzing my data and serving me this story. How to cope with social isolation if you live alone. Also, I miss my parents.
  • 4/2: Day 13 of isolation. Virtual happy hour catch up with Josie and April. I remember the last time we visited IRL and I really really just wish we could do that again.
  • 4/3: Day 14 of isolation. Breakdown number 2; major. My mood has been so good. I’m doing great with food and exercise. I’m staying busy with projects and not letting myself get down by the lack of people in the physical form in my life. Why am I so sad? Is all that I’m doing just a mask to avoid addressing the things in life that hurt? I’m so lonely and I haven’t showered. I haven’t even pulled the shades to know what the weather is like. Work is fine but business doesn’t fix sadness. Social media isn’t helping. I feel like I can’t breathe.
  • 4/4: Day 15 of isolation. These are the things I’m thinking of rn..
  • 4/5: Day 16 of isolation. I slept until noon today. I have no reason to be awake. If I sleep longer, maybe this nightmare will end. I have been an emotionally paralyzed ball of tears since the better part of Friday through today. I don’t know how to fix this. My niece Duo’d me, that’s what got me up. The call was short. She’s a busy and imaginative girl. My mom said in the background that I’m lazy (for waking up at noon). I held my composure until Emma hung up and as soon as she did, cue the tears. My mom called a few minutes later. She could hear that i wasn’t doing well, I’m sure my voice was shaky. When I told her the isolation is getting to me, she told me that I’m brainwashed. Call ended. God, my heart hurts. My mom is my best friend in life and all I need right now is her comfort. Where do I go when the only safe person doesn’t feel safe? My brother Nick texted shortly after that call and asked if i would come visit (I found out later, that my youngest brother, Logan, had called Nick.) I ignored his message and the next one. I don’t want pity. I don’t want him to feel like he has to check on me because I’m weak or broken. I’m stronger than this. But, I just want someone to hear me. He then called after awhile of disregarding his message. i agreed to come to his house after he told me I needed to get out of the house. My mental health is more important than my physical health or the possibility of ‘rona. I cried as soon as I saw him. I hadn’t seen anyone in so long and for the first time in weeks, I felt like I might be able to make it out of this loneliness. I don’t know how, but they made me feel better. We ate BDubs and played video games. I felt okay. Praise Jesus for my brothers, seriously. I might sometimes put the responsibility of making sure our family is a functioning unit but I know my brothers will always be there to pick me up if I need it.
  • 4/6: Day 17 of social distancing. Why did a tiger get tested for COVID when there aren’t enough tests available for humans?
  • 4/7: Day 18 of social distancing. Virtual happy hour with the work crew + Leah which is still basically the work crew before she abandoned us pre-Covid.
  • 4/8: Day 19 of social distancing. Breathe. It’s going to be okay.
  • 4/9: Day 20 of social distancing. I don’t think it’s that funny that people’s biggest quarantine fear is that they’ll get fat. Welcome to the fucking club, Karen.
  • 4/10: Day 21 of social distancing. This week was garbage in terms of being motivated. My food wasn’t great and I didn’t exercise. I blame my period. I’m doing better emotionally though. I’m still crying daily over stupid things. It’s not that I can’t be alone but I don’t want to be alone. I don’t know anyone like me. Everyone in my life has at least one of the following: a roommate, a spouse, or a family member living with them. A roommate gives you some sense of “I’m not alone.” It has to. To know that someone else lives in your home and at the very least, you can quarantine together. A spouse whether you live with them or not gives you a companion, a confidant. Someone that you can be like “wtf and also, I need love. I’m at 20%, can you please help fulfill the 80%?” And, a family. The families, I think, hurt my heart the most and this is why I need to ditch social media.. I get that having to homeschool kids AND juggle work is a feat that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Parents curse their children and wish they could just scream until this all goes away. But all I can think is “I would give ANYTHING to be in your position.” I would give all the things in my life and money in my bank account to be stressed to the point of exhaustion. To have a mini that I can create history with and mold. To have a legacy and a family to care for at the end of the day. I know. I know we think the grass is always greener and I know some would give anything to be a single 30-year-old apartment dweller. I get it. But trust me guys, literal loneliness is nothing to wish for. Ever. And if you really did wish for it, that math tells me you regret having children and for the sake of those little souls, I hope that you wouldn’t regret such a miracle. I’ll step down from my soapbox now.
  • 4/11: Day 22 of social distancing. My mom admittingly isn’t a “feels” person but I’d like to think she tried to put herself in my shoes over the last week. She sent me a couple of care packages throughout the week; tulip bulbs ready to bloom, a teddy bear with a poem about feeling alone in the world and a few beautiful pieces of art by Emma. Katie invited me over to do nails. We’ve been getting dips done professionally since July of last year and I’m nervous to figure out how to take them off ourselves since the salons haven’t been open. Today was the first day since 3/18 that I wore real clothing (not PJ’s or loungewear) and I feel good. Like, I might actually survive this situational depression. Updates: My nails are brittle and I gained any weight that I lost the previous 2 weeks this week.
  • 4/12: Day 23 of social distancing. Today is Easter. I’m visualizing any episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine where Andy Samberg’s character says “cool cool cool cool.” That’s me pretending not celebrating a holiday with my family is NBD whilst a Papa John’s pizza deep as two cats and a half empty bag of chocolate chips sits next to me. Also, I forever can’t sleep. My mind doesn’t rest and I feel too lonely to cry.
  • 4/13: Day 24 of social distancing. I cancelled my therapy appointment today. I don’t think it’s helping in the way that I need right now.
  • 4/15: Day 26 of social distancing. Last minute virtual happy hour with co-workers. I miss them so much.
  • 4/16: Day 27 of social distancing. I started intermediate fasting a couple days ago. I still need to do more reading on it but I need to try something. I’m finally feeling actually okay emotionally. I’m still keeping busy but I’m trying to hone in on my emotional well-being. I want to come out of all this a better, more authentic version of myself. Throughout my life, I’ve become an expert at masking; molding myself to those around me. To the point that I don’t really know what makes me, me. I want to use this quarantine for good. To find meaning in who I am. I started to teach myself embroidery this week. Mom invited me to come home this weekend. I don’t know what to do. Can I? Is it appropriate? I don’t want to be shunned by the population. But I did visit Nick last week when I was at my breaking point of sadness and I need my people. I don’t know what to do. Stimulus check is in and it’s also payday.
  • 4/17: Day 28 of social distancing. Nick and Katie came over to visit tonight. I’m going to visit them tomorrow. My heart feels like it’ll be okay.
  • 4/18: Day 29 of social distancing. If all of this lasts into June and beyond, I’m going to need to figure out some social distancing-esque solo travel options because my mental health is more important than my physical health. Fight me.
  • 4/19: Day 30 of social distancing. I’ve been looking for disinfectant spray and/or wipes for 5 weeks and still haven’t found any. FIVE WEEKS. I hope all these selfish hoarders aren’t just letting it sit in their rat infested garages. I’ll be PIST.
  • 4/20: Day 31 of social distancing. Once we’re allowed to resume our daily lives and social gatherings, everyone is going to flock together to preserve the little sanity we have left and get sick because we’ll be reintroduced to new germs after being isolated for so long. Not COVID-sick, just sick. I’m 100% certain that I was raised in a “germs are good” environment. We played in the dirt, probably tried dog food, were forced into chickenpox and now we’re forced into living in the stale recycled air of our homes. Interacting with anyone is going to make my newly weakened immune system go nuts. Where my docs at, tho? Has this been looked into? It only seems like Human Bodies 101 that lack of contact with other humans will naturally weaken immune systems. But what do I know?
  • 4/22: Day 33 of whatever this is. Kristie stopped by with lunch today. My heart feels full.
  • 4/24: Day 35 of whatever this is. I went home home today, to my parents house in Viking. I got to see my best friend, Emma bean. We made homemade playdough and I know life will be okay no matter how weird this year is because at the end of the day all I really need is my family. They are happy and healthy and safe.
  • 4/30: Day 33 of whatever this is. I went to the office and nearly cried. I only saw three people but I loved every second of it and couldn’t stand not giving them hugs.

MAY FLOWERS aka Finally, some clarity & meaning.

  • 5/2: Kind hearts have me in my feels today.
  • 5/3: I can’t find the source but I read something earlier that hit different: The worst thing about all of this is that some people will come out of it unchanged.
  • 5/4: The last couple of “work weeks” (Mon-Fri) have been really great. I’m acing this intermediate fasting thing. I’m getting outside and going for walks. I went for two long walks on Wednesday and have a weird amount of untapped energy. Who is this girl?
  • 5/8: Visited Kristie today and met her granddaughter Amelia! She’s so frickin’ sweet!
  • 5/20: Dentist appointment today. It’s been cancelled and rescheduled a handful of times due to all this stuff. They checked my temp when I walked in.
  • 5/24: I went to the dentist 4 days ago and my mouth is still so sore; not from the work done, just from my mouth being open. My theory is because I don’t talk out loud as often anymore, that this is why. Exercise your jaws people or going to the dentist will suck more than usual.
  • 5/25: Feeling down today and stayed in bed until almost 1 feeling sorry for myself; I want to eat my feelings by the way of junk food and pizza. Instead, I’m going to read outside to get vitamin D through the clouds and fuel my body with healthy foods to help combat this loneliness.
  • 5/27: Week whatever it is, I’ve lost count: Still cannot find Lysol spray or Clorox wipes anywhere locally or online. But, I’m still alive.
  • 5/28: Hands up if you passed your hardest moments alone while everyone believed you were fine. Because, same.

IN CONCLUSION

This is an ending to a story that goes on and on. I’m in a much better place now than in the early days of the pandemic. I’m healthy, I haven’t contracted C-19 or needed to test yet. I didn’t do all the right things or take the right steps. I should have spent time in therapy throughout the worst of times to try and avoid or at least constructively work through the sadness I felt. But, in the moment, I think I just wanted to feel sadness because it was better than the loneliness. Today, I’m counting my blessings and want to leave you with this piece of advice from a legendary comedian and human:

“I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” – Jim Carrey

I don’t know what’s next or how this will end. Or if it’ll end but we’ve entered a stage of #NewNormal and I think we’re going to have to get TF on or get TF out.

Thanks for reading.

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.