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.

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.

Holidaze: Food for thought.

Last weekend my immediate family gathered together at my brother’s place in Horace. My grandma Rita joined in on the fun too, which was a sweet (sorta planned) surprise. Usually she finds herself at my Uncle Troy’s but due to everyone’s comfortability with health and whatnot, that just wasn’t in the cards.

We did the usual things; visited, opened gifts, and played games. At one point, the games got so rambunctious that my dad asked my mom how much we’d all had to drink. Shocker, pops but we were simply jacked up on cheer and chocolate. He and my youngest brother sat idlily by while we quite literally displayed Utter Nonsense in various accents round and round again. A game everyone must have in their collection!

I do think this was one of the most enjoyable Christmases I remember having in quite some time. The food was good, the company even better. No one seemed to be too bogged down by having to spend quality time with each other and my dad even got out of the house to go pawning; a regular activity that really seems like a holiday tradition.


Fast-forward to the real deal, Christmas itself.. I found myself with nothing to do and I was actually pretty okay with it. I felt blessed that my family was all in good health and able to spend time together the weekend before. I had decided weeks ago to keep myself busy by volunteering at church on Christmas Eve and filling my Christmas Day with holiday movies galore.

For the first year in three, I wasn’t sad. I had a couple of blips, sure. A few moments in the days leading up to the holiday when people were describing their plans and I was like “well, we celebrated last weekend so just me, myself, and I.” And actually, I think more people felt sorry for me than I felt for myself, which was new.


I hadn’t physically stepped foot in Prairie Heights in months; only twice since our worlds changed. It was weird and uncomfortable both times but not for lack of trying. We all have had to make due with what we can; evolve to live. We’re taught to believe that church isn’t a building but people. It’s true, I do believe that. But it’s hard to be the church without the people. Without seeing the faces IRL that keep you accountable in whatever it is; life, faith, or otherwise.

My eyes swelled up before I even opened the doors at PH and when I was greeted with the same smiling eyes as I always had been, I was reminded that the church is in fact people but it didn’t sink in until I was in the building. How is that?

I felt like I was both home and away from home in the same moment. I watched from the sidelines as the service before the one I volunteered at get dismissed; families gathering together for what I can only assume is a holiday photo opp. I watched other volunteers embrace one another in elbow bumps and air high fives, radiating such immense joy from behind their masks.

I listened intently as Marni, the director of Guest Services thanked us, prayed over us, and shared the hurt in her heart over how different her holiday was this year in comparison to years past. I found myself feeling remorseful for getting to spend the holiday with my family just last weekend, forgetting how many households didn’t have that luxury this year.


A dear friend of mine was asked to share her story with the PH community this Christmas season. The theme being “The Thrill of Hope.” Now, I don’t know if it’s just because I know her or if it was the feeling of community on Christmas Eve or the holy spirit at work; likely a combination of all three but her story, even though I’d heard it previously, hit me like a ton of bricks.

I met Anna before she’d even attended Prairie Heights. She joined the same Grow Group I did at the same time, but she had yet to step foot in the church. We both came with broken hearts for different reasons and had the courage to not only show up but trust others to be gentle. To ask for prayers. I feel so honored to have seen first hand how God has been working in her life since that first evening I met her. One of my very favorite things Anna has ever said in our small group and in her testimony is: “I had a God-shaped hole in my heart and I was trying to fill it with everything else. But it was Jesus, that’s what was missing.” Uffda, is that ever true. You can watch Anna’s video below:


To my surprise, I actually didn’t end up being alone on Christmas either. My aunt reached out asking if I’d like to come over for dinner and to visit. All of my cousins on my dad’s side were there and it was such a fun time. Growing up, we were hours and hours away from that side of the family. We’d see them occasionally but we didn’t grow up with them, like on my mom’s side. So, as the oldest, it’s always been so weird for me. Like, I remember them young. In diapers. Little kids that were too tiny to play Scrabble or have anything in common with. Now, fast-forward two decades and we’re all adults. We’re on different paths and have completely different worlds but we have the opportunity to connect in a way that we never did before. It’s still weird though. I still feel like the old one in the bunch but I’ll take what I can get!

We played what seemed like a plethora of games and changed the rules of some. We ate delicious foods, too many sweets, and I may have participated in an olive showdown challenge with my cousin, Dallas. I even talked them into taking part in the inaugural adventure of the Adventure Challenge book I gifted myself this Christmas. ‘Twas a fun time.


I originally had a different plan for this final post of the Holidaze series. I wanted to focus on the story of Christmas; that it’s not about the gifts or the food or the fun. Because faithfully, it’s not. I think we all know that. And I think we’ve all just come to accept that it’s morphed into this Americanized “vacation” that everyone either looks forward to or dreads.

  • Whether we celebrate the holiday for the right reasons or not, I was reminded in my BEMA small group this week of Micah 6:8 “..to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  • I was nudged to serve at Prairie Heights for Christmas so others could spend quality time with their loved ones.
  • I was moved by Anna’s message of hope when everything seems so hopeless.
  • I was reminded by Pastor Beth in her Christmas message that everything has meaning in God’s plan.

Christmas isn’t about the gifts or the food or the fun. But it is. The gift of life and community that we’re fortunate to be given because of Jesus. The food of wisdom and the God-moment reminders in every day life are there, if we are hungry enough to listen. The fun in the joy we feel by seeing and being with people we love.

Jesus taught us to simply love one another. That’s it, really. The story might get lost and the traditions might change but the message never has. I hope that even if your holiday season was filled with piles upon piles of wrapping paper and garbage bags full of leftovers, that you were able to take pause and feel even the slightest sense of gratitude for all that Christmas is regardless of creed.

Merry Christmas from here and thank you for reading! -Ori

Holidaze: A letter a day is rare, they say.

A few months ago, I gifted my mom a book called 100 Life Challenges. It’s a fill-in-the-blank type calendar full of (100 to be exact) 30-day challenges, introducing the concept of developing good habits and at a time like this, Lord knows we could all do with some healthy new norms.

I can sometimes be a selfish Sally so I had to buy myself the same book because 1. Your girl loves a good challenge and 2. Filling things out; forms, applications, lists.. they bring me all the comforts and joy. Don’t @ me for being nerdy. *pushes glasses up*

See, before this whole book thing came about, my mom had been sending me challenges for years. I don’t know when it started or how but I know she was the first to offer up a challenge. This typically has always revolved around health in some capacity by the way of Hydration Challenges (getting your 8-10 glasses a day in) to Overcoming Couch Potato Syndrome (move your butt before you sit on it) to Stop & Drop Challenges (stop what you’re doing and do a minute of squats)! Drop it like it’s hot, ladies and gentlemen.

Those were fun.


Anyway, I figure that success and follow-through sometimes requires a group effort so in giving this book to both my mom and I, I had hoped that she’d accept the invitation to do the challenges with me and she was up for the double-dog dare! Exciting!

Since October, we’ve done six challenges in this book so far. The primary focus is self-care. The challenges range from easy things like “light a candle when you get home” or “watch an ASMR video” to harder things like “look in the mirror and say out loud what you love about your body” or “set a bedtime and stick to it.” Some will become habits and some won’t but in those that we have done so far, I’ve taken something positive away each time and began developing new routines that may seem like little nothings but add up to a whole lot ‘a somethin’ when put together.

In that time, I’ve been making my bed daily, lighting candles to give my apartment a more homey feel, and taking time to actually reflect before bed each night about the moments and people throughout the day that I’m grateful for.

Don’t get me wrong, in all these months at home, my blue-light consumption has not improved much and I definitely don’t have a solid morning routine. I’m 31 years old and still hit snooze 17 times before rolling out of bed. I don’t usually bother with breakfast either and I shut down when I feel excluded.

BUT, this little book of challenges is slowly encouraging me to find the sweetness in the small things. It’s prompting me to think outside of the box. Never have I ever tried daily dry brushing or gone thirty days without watching TV but those challenges are up to bat on pages 168 and 154, respectively. And I’m here for it.


Because I’m a planner-McPlanner-ton, I looked ahead in this challenge book to see what was upcoming and noticed that the month of December would challenge me (us) to write a letter to someone each day.

Talk about pulling at a girls heart strings, I thought we were easing into this. I used to write to my great-grandma Elsie for years. She must have initiated it when I was a teenager or maybe even earlier. I’d like to think that I’ve kept every single one (I do have an entire basket full of letters) but I may be missing a few. I know I didn’t reply to each one, especially back then. I’m sure my busy little 16-year-old life was too important to bother replying as quickly as my last name implies.

But I did, eventually.

She would write pages and pages in her perfect “grandma Elsie scribble.” It was always a challenge in and of itself to read her writing and I managed to do so pretty well, I think. But I’m not sure the kids in school these days could make out her old-school cursive anymore. Many times, she’d also include a handmade doilies!

I don’t think I realized the impact that she had on me at the time and the compassion that she exuded in comparison to the legacy she’s left on my heart in the years since she’s passed. Through her letters, she shared with me little well-being tips like placing a bar of soap at the end of your bed under your blankets if you’re having leg cramps to stories about how she’d met my great-grandpa Nick and how she’d felt in the decades since he’d passed. She’d share stories about the ladies she’d go to dinner with and the conversations she had.

In her letters she’d talk about her relationship with God and wondered aloud why she was still living. She had lived a long, happy, and full life. She walked three miles a day nearly ’til the end. She transcribed the entire Bible front to back and kept every single card, letter, photo, and news-clipping she was sent. For everyone, from everyone. She did all the things and prayed all the prayers wondering what it was she was left here on Earth to do all this time without her Nick.

She would sometimes start a letter on Monday evening and finish it on Tuesday morning. She was consistent and persistent in her letters. She never gave up writing to me even if I wasn’t as prompt as she’d likely hoped. She wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable. She was interested in my life and she spoke to me in the letters as if we were right there next to one another.

Now, I don’t know if she ever got her answer here while living, about why God bothered having her live for so dang long but I like to think she figured it out if not then, hopefully by now. I know she had many more people in her life, more than I am years old, but I do think reaching me in the way she did from afar was without a doubt, an act of God. She never gave up and I’ll cherish every single one of these letters for the rest of my life.

And you want to know what else? She is not the only grandma that has habitually written to me. Going through my basket of letters and re-reading them this last week, I didn’t realize how many I also received from my grandma Darlene. I don’t think I realized it until now because growing up, I saw her much more frequently in person. Thinking back, I recall reading letters from her and when seeing her, we’d chat about them. I know I replied to my grandma Darlene in written form too but not nearly as often as Elsie. How wild and cool is that? It gives me goosebumps to come to the realization of how blessed I was then to have two grandma’s pour into me for years and years and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

But I do now.


Where was I? Oh yes, a letter writing challenge. I’ve written letters off and on in the years since my great-grandma has passed. I’ve taken time over the years to write quick thank you’s and even heartfelt messages to people I’m close to but it’s never been consistent and I don’t know why other than using the excuse of “life gets away from you sometimes.”

Writing a letter introduces a level of self-care that I didn’t even consider before. Not only does it help the writer to slow down a little, create a moment of mindfulness, and an opportunity to be technology free, but it helps the recipient too; to pause. To be a part of an experience that is rarely felt anymore; to open your mailbox and see something other than junk mail, other than bills.. It’s like a blip of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy chore.

I went hard on this challenge, too. I hadn’t prepped for any of our other challenges but you bet your butt I did this month. I wanted to both finish this weird (and kinda mostly negative) year on a positive and channel my inner GGE.

In order to do that, I needed to be as prepared as possible. I ordered supplies for both my mom and I (think envelopes, notebooks, cute stickers, stamps). I even purchased address labels for the first time in years. #feelinprofesh

But in order to really do this right on my end, I needed to be accountable and the only way for me to be accountable in the middle of a pandemic is through social media so I posted a series of stories on Insta and Facebook enlisting trusting volunteers to dare receive a handwritten letter filled with scribbles by yours truly.

Through that medium alone, I was able to reserve 26 of the 30 days of this challenge but I do have a couple more days to fill so, if you’ve made it this far and would like to receive a letter before the month is up, fill this out! Or text me or slide into my DM’s or whatever is less weird for you. (I promise it won’t be as long as this post!)

Honestly, I hope this reaches enough people that it’ll exceed my challenge goal because while this started out as a challenge, it’s really given me time to reflect in ways I hadn’t before. It’s given me the opportunity to take pause and think about the people I’m writing to, who they are as individuals in this world. What I know about them, how I know them, how I keep in touch with them, if I do at all.

I ask myself how they are hurting, how they are coping through all the shit of this year. I want to know what makes them wake up in the morning and what they worry about when they go to sleep at night. And I don’t know any of that, about any of them. And I try to relay that in my letters but I don’t know if it translates well. We live in a world now where everyone seems to be so established in their lives and it’s hard to break down the walls to let people in, or at least that’s what I’ve experienced thus far.

It’s easy, especially with the blessing/curse of social media, to think we know people when really, we don’t.

So, to those I’ve written to, I hope you’re doing well far beyond what my keyboard-prone fingers would allow me to write. Trust me when I say, had I had the stamina, I would have sent each person a five-page letter like my great-grandma did with me, maybe one day. But I hope the 1-2 pages of handwritten, probably illegible, letters will be the start of many exchanges (in some form or another) for years to come.

And to those who haven’t received a letter yet. Hang tight. It’s only the 21st of December. :)

I have two hopes as I finish out this challenge:

  1. I hope that I continue writing, pen to paper style. I hope that there are people interested in receiving letters. Maybe I can find a non-profit to work with and write letters to the elderly or the sick or reconnect with my Norwegian pen-pal from fourth grade. Who knows?
  2. And I hope that I can be the light in someone’s otherwise cloudy year even if just for a moment. I don’t care if my letters end up in the trash and I don’t expect responses in return, but I do know what it’s like to open the mailbox to something other than the reality of everyday life and I sure hope it makes others feel like everything will be okay like it does to me.

With that being said, I’ll leave you with a transcribed excerpt from my great-grandma Elsie:

By the fall of ’39, we moved to Warroad, Minn. When we got there, the lady wouldn’t let us live in the place we were promised. We moved to a town with no where to go, no home. Keep in mind my sweet little son was only a year old and it was nearly winter. We did end up moving into the empty Lindamood house for awhile sharing it with Dave and Martha. They had the two boys and we had baby Larry so they lived in the big kitchen and upstairs, we were in the living room. Larry’s fingers were so cold so he had to sleep between us in the bed.

Later, we bought a place from J.W. Pearson but there was no house, no outhouse. Just a road and a 1/2 mile full of manure. So, the church men came and cut logs for us. Hubert Hamlin sawed it into lumber and they all helped us build an 18×26 home; 1 large room and 1 bedroom but we were happy then, to be by ourselves. Helping each other when we’re down, that is what we called Christianity.

P.S. If you’re interested in the 100 Life Challenges book, I did link it at the top of the post but you can also find it in Fargo locally at Barnes & Nobel or Target. Thank you for reading!

Holidaze: An Intro

I decided to pull out my ol’ keyboard and start this series to share a little bit of my world with you all. I love to write more than anything, I find it therapeutic and it helps the socially inept side of me connect with others but I let the monotony of a mostly isolated life take up my time. Think: work, tv, bed, repeat all from the same 750 square feet, day after day. I’m tired of it and I need to make an active effort to change the bad habits I’ve adopted over the last nine months.

‘Holidaze’ is a series about navigating the weird time we’re in these last few weeks as 2020 comes to a close. The holiday season meets a state of confusion right in the middle of a pandemic, or something like that. I hope you follow along if you’re into it and feel free to share with others!

The holiday’s are always so tricky for me. On one hand, this is the time of year that brings me a lot of heartache (more on that another time) and reminds me of how lonely I am. The holidays definitely weren’t made for the single ladies.

But, on another hand, I love every single second of it. I love getting together with family and friends. I love the quiet days in with the fireplace crackling, a cup of hot chocolate steaming, and a sappy Christmas movie. I love the holiday festivals and events. The gift exchanges and the cute cards and the unknown of what my sister-in-law will decide to make for Christmas dinner! I love the celebration of a New Year and the tradition of Advent. The season truly is a magical time.

Unfortunately, a lot of that isn’t happening this year. And the parts that are will be different and unusual. It’s uncharted territory for us all and I know I’m not the only one that is and will continue to struggle throughout this season both in the holiday spirit sense and in the ‘winter = situational depression’ sense.

This season, I hope to invite you into my weird little world a little bit. I hope to connect with people I haven’t had an opportunity to connect with in a long time and I hope to make it through this pandemic alive and healthy with each of you. I hope to remind myself of all the wonderful things this world has to offer, of the bittersweet memories of days past, and of the many blessings we have in life.

Thank you for reading! -Ori

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. ♥️

Day 2: Judith Gap, Mont.

I’m officially dubbing lil’ Judith Gap the cutest town name in America. Not only does it now hold this world renowned title, but it’s flippin’ picturesque to boot. Judy G, as I like to refer to her, overlooks the rolling hills full of hay bales and way off in a far away land, you can see the beginning of some mountain peaks that I don’t know the name of. Just outside the town, are fields of windmills hugging both sides of the road towering over the highways like I assume redwoods do in California. 

Getting to Glacier National Park in the northwest part of the state was my goal today. Between Browning and Glacier is 60 miles or so, so an hour but it took me well over two because I stopped at so many pull-outs along the way just to admire all the vastness that is here. I could see mountains for quite some time but there is this really special area where a train track begins to outline the base of the peaks. The trees tower like green skyscrapers in a metropolis and all my little girl dreams come alive. A train was passing through at the exact time I witnessed all of this while driving. I felt my heart stop. It reminded me of a story a grandfather might tell around a fire talking about the setting of the good ol’ days. Ugh, it was literally idyllic and a memory that I hope lives in my mind for all of time since I wasn’t able to snap a photo.


I had booked a lodge overlooking Lake McDonald just two days ago. I landed on this place because I’ve been daydreaming about the brightly colored rocks, the crystal clear water, and the mountains for longer than I can remember. I didn’t do much research, a new thing for me. So, I thought my cabin came with a kitchenette. Silly girl. Before I arrived at GNP, I stopped at a small grocery store along the way. Surprise surprise, my studio lodge was not a kitchenette; no fridge, no microwave. The host peeps were cool though, they gave me a cooler with ice. When’s the last time you ate cold hot dogs for a week? Because same.

After a long day of driving, unpacking most of my stuff and throwing my grub in the cute little cooler full of ice, I explored Apgar Village a bit. I decided to walk along the shore of Lake McDonald; a view I’ve seen countless times online and always added it to the miles long bucket list in my mind. But, let me tell you.. not a single photo on the internet or any that I post could do this place justice. Not one.

I walked a ways in quietness and took a seat on the shore, sitting on the colorful rocks I’d daydreamed about for years, toes in the ice cold rocky water right next to a fallen down tree. I had ventured far enough away from the village so that I was away from the hustle and bustle of the other visitors. The laughter and families singing are now just distant sounds a half mile away. This. This feels like home.