Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Four Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Tell My 20-Something-Self:

      You are in control of the people in your life.

I used to think that I had to give up everything to keep the people in my life happy. I felt like I had to bend over backwards to get the people in my life to like me, to feel accepted, and to keep people happy. The friendships in my life started to feel more like a burden than anything else, and what fun is that? The whole point of friendships is to have people surrounding you that support you, listen to you, and that you have fun with and laugh with and, most importantly, can trust. I pretty much had those things every other day, and the rest of the time was spent keeping them as happy as possible and spending time trying to walk on eggshells so I wouldn't disturb anything. It wasn’t until it was almost too late that I realized I didn’t have to do that and not only did I not have to do that, I had it in my power to let those people go. When I figured out I had that kind of control, things felt freer; I felt more free. I had power and it felt GOOD to use it.

You don’t have to settle when it comes to romantic relationships.

Oh, boy. I look back at the guys I dated and don’t understand how or why. Well, that’s a lie; I do know why. It was because I didn’t think I could do any better and because I thought that I couldn’t find any better or I thought I was being too unrealistic about what I wanted. Newsflash: I wasn’t. I settled for someone who I wasn’t in love with because I thought I would be stupid to give him up. I settled for someone who made me feel badly about myself because I thought I wasn’t as good of a person as he was. I settled for a man who didn’t know what he wanted and constantly made me question our relationship because I thought no one else would love me the way he did and because I thought love had to be hard to be worth it. Don’t do that. You don’t have to question your relationship, you don’t have to feel badly, you don’t have to want or settle for less than you actually want. Even if it means waiting, you can have what you want. And it will be worth every second of your wait. Super promise.

Not caring can be a good thing.

I mean, obviously not when it comes to people or your job or relationships. But, when it comes to what people think about you. Or when it comes to the brands you wear or the things you own. I used to be one of those girls who wouldn’t be caught dead out of the house without make up on and now, if I get mascara on my eyelashes, it’s a good day for me. And It’s not because I don’t care about myself or I hate makeup (actually, I love makeup) but it’s just because I realize I don’t care what people think about me. I’m confident enough in myself to go out of the house with naked eyes. I don’t care anymore about being perfect for anyone. I don’t care if I come across as demanding and if I may rock the baot, but I speak up when my order at a restaurant is wrong. I don’t care if I make someone mad, but if they treat me badly, I don’t put up with it and I tell them so. Stop caring about the things that don't matter and pay more attention to the things that do. Yourself included.

Let the future worry about itself.


Super easier said than done. And not to say that we shouldn’t THINK about the future or make any kind of plans for it. But, as someone who spent most of my twenties worrying about the future and trying to make things happen and do things a certain way I can tell you it was a complete and utter waste of time. And time really is precious. I look back and wonder what I was so worried about. My life is NOTHING like I wanted it to be or thought it was going to be or tried to make it be and – oh my goodness – I’m not dead. And, not only that, but my life is even better than my expectations were. Of course, I have the gift of hindsight, but honestly, if I had just let my life play out instead of forcing things to happen or stressing out about what wasn’t happening, I would have saved so much time, so much effort and energy, so much of my own sanity and my own happiness. Just, LIVE. Stop worrying, stop stressing, stop feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t have what you think you want or think you’re supposed to have and love what you do have. Your life will work out in the end.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

thirty is the new 20. or something like that.

People keep asking me what 30 feels like, and I keep responding with “Just like 29.”

And, I’m, not even trying to be funny; really, it’s not as if on the 18th of February, everything for me changed. I woke up and felt the way I felt the day before.

I’ve felt “30” (or, how ever I think 30 is and was supposed to feel) a while ago, actually. It was the moment I woke up and realized I was comfortable in my own skin, which is something I can say I never felt in the first 28 years of my life. When I realized how blessed I truly have been and truly am and stopped focusing on everything that was or could or might go wrong, everything changed.

Being an adult is sort of a funny thing, especially when you don’t realize that it’s happening. And, when you become an adult, you realize it has little to do with age and more to do with experience. I still wake up and wonder when it happened: when I started to enjoy going to bed at 9pm instead of staying up until midnight; when I started to prefer a night in with a glass/bottle of wine than go out to a loud bar or lounge or restaurant; When I started to enjoy balancing my checkbook and filing my paperwork and organizing my drawers and creating a schedule; when I started to love doing laundry and writing thank you cards and buying crap from Home Goods. I mean, seriously, who am I?

But honestly, for me, being an adult has become less about the things I do and the time I go to bed. It’s really about the person I have become. Well, first, just KNOWING who I am and not spending all of my life feeling lost and sad and insecure; just being comfortable with who I am and where I am. Being an adult, to me, is feeling productive and responsible with my time and my choices. Being an adult is realizing that I don’t have to spend time with any one who doesn’t make me feel good about myself, who doesn’t care about me, or who makes me feel anything less than like a good person. Being an adult is also knowing that if it means I only have a couple good friends, I’m still better off.


This place in my life is way more exciting than my 20s ever were and not because nothing exciting happened in my 20s, but because I’m in a place in my life where I can understand the exciting things and enjoy them and LIVE. I’m living and not just trying to get by or get through. I’m enjoying being with my friends, hanging out with my parents and being able to have that kind of relationship with them, watching my friends have babies and get married. I’m enjoying being in a relationship with a man who works hard, opens doors for me, doesn’t judge my craziness, and who doesn’t ever make me question how he feels or what he wants. I’m enjoying working at a job that I’m good at, that I enjoy, that I feel productive at. Mostly, I’m enjoying where I’m at and looking forward to the next decade of my life and what it will bring.

Monday, February 3, 2014

bon voyage, 2013. (a month late.)

So, it’s February already (umm, what?!) and this was supposed to be posted a month ago, but hey, better late than never, right? (Sure.)

A year ago, I started a Graditude Journal and started 2013 with the mindset of being grateful instead of being upset or worried about the things in my life that I didn’t have or things in my life that were going right. While I’d love to say that every day of 2013 was spent being super thankful, that would be a blatant lie. There were days when things just seemed desperate and frustrating and forever stressful. There were many days in 2013 where I wondered if my heart would be broken forever, if I would ever be able to open up to someone so wholly and completely again, if I was the kind of person who could be loved, if I could ever trust anyone ever again.  Really, what I can sum 2013 up as is this: I wondered a lot if I could trust myself again.

Going through a break-up with someone you placed 100% of your trust in and who you talked about your future with, planned a life with – there’s something in you that breaks that you don’t know will ever be put back together. It would be easy and cliché to say it’s your heart that breaks, but it’s more than that. You feel failed by the one person who promised would never fail you and you start to wonder who else in your life will fail you. You question every decision you’ve ever made in your life, wondering if you were so confident in placing trust in this person who ended up letting you down, what else in your life is actually real? What other decisions in your life were good ones or not? You begin to wonder if you can really trust yourself to make decisions, if you really know anything about your life or life in general.

Depression is a silly thing. It makes you feel things and do things and think things that aren’t reality. I realized that every time in my life I thought I was “better” – that I was over being depressed -- all I was doing was taking all the positive things happening and using them as a cover. Being hurt in a way that seems inhumane made me realize that there was no such thing as cured, but there is a thing as better, and I needed to figure out how to be better.

In the end, what this break-up was was a chance for me to really find myself. After being in the lowest place in my life, I got the courage and the strength to ask for help to figure out how to climb out of the hole of depression I had been living with my entire life. And what happened was amazing. In a year, I went through a journey where I really did find myself. I learned how to trust myself, how to work through bad times, how to love myself, how to be optimistic and hopeful and positive and grateful. And, here I am, a year later, with so many things to be grateful for that I don’t know where to start.

When 2013 ended, I really felt like myself, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I knew who myself was. 2013 ended and I realized I had been chasing happy my whole life, when in reality, happy isn’t a permanent feeling. What I found was contentment. I found myself content with my life, even though there were things I still wish were different. I learned how to stand up for myself, how to be a better friend and sister and daughter, how to put things into perspective and how to take care of myself. I learned how to be proud of myself. I learned how to take time out for myself without taking anything away from someone else. I learned how to be confident in the decisions I made. I learned how to love myself.

I ended 2013 with a masters degree (I never liked school very much and here I am with not one, but TWO degress. Wwwhhhhhaaaattt?), with great friends who I enjoy spending time with and who treat me with respect and care, with a job where I’m respected and where I feel good about myself and that I love (despite having to drive 120 miles everyday). But, more importantly – and most surprising – I ended 2013 in a relationship with a person who has restored my faith in everything I had ever lost faith in.

This year, for the first time, I don’t feel like depression defines who I am; I feel like I define who I am. I’m in control of how I feel, who I allow to hurt me, what I allow in my life. I’m confident, more sure of things, less afraid, and enjoying where God is taking me instead of being impatient to actually get there.


2014? You’re going to be a good year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I’m constantly reminded that my twenties are coming to an end. It used to really freak me out, but lately I’m really finding myself not only coming to terms with THIRTY, but also looking at how I have changed and grown and how thirty has made me comfortable in my own skin. But, I’ve also become sort of…old ladyish. For example:

1.     I constantly want to tell teenage girls to put some clothes on. I mean, it’s not like I was ever a super provocative dresser and had my own mother tell me to cover up, but I was definitely not a buttoned-up person. But…I mean, is it just me, or are the clothing choices being made just ridiculous? I don’t know, but I every time I see a girl with a shirt that might as well be a bra or in shorts that resemble underwear, I just want to cover her up with a jacket. IT’S NOT CUTE.
2.     I drink coffee. A lot of coffee. I always thought coffee was kind of gross but in the past 6 months not only do I love it, I can’t function without it. Even in college, I wasn’t one of those students who couldn’t get up for class without a cup of coffee or who binge drank lattes while cramming for finals. I drank cans and cans of soda and hoped for the best. But now, coffee is my best friend. And Starbucks just keeps sucking my bank account dry.
3.     I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I used to be one of those girls that would rather be caught dead than go out without make up on. Now I’m all up in yoga pants, my hair all cray with NO MAKE UP. I just don’t care anymore. Even when I put some on, it’s basically face make-up (powder, NO LIQUID) and mascara. If I’m feeling wild, I’ll put on some eyeliner. Besides, I live in Rodeo – who the hell am I trying to impress here?
4.     I go to bed before 11. For any of you that know me, that’s unheard of. I used to be a night owl and now I’m in bed around 10 and I’m up by five. FIVE A.M., people. I told my sister the other day that I’d rather get up earlier and be able to leave work earlier than sleep in. I DON’T EVEN RECOGNIZE MYSELF ANYMORE.
5.     I’m content being where I am. WHAT? I mean, I spent pretty much all of my 20s wanting something different, wanting everything different. Everything I did was motivated by trying to be someone different, to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be. It was motivated by trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do or what I thought would make me more like everyone else. Everything I did was motivated by trying to make my life what I thought it should be instead of letting my life make ME who and what I should be. It only took 29 years, but I think I got it…sort of.
6.     If shizz takes effort, I’m probably not into it. No, I’m not talking about work or relationships. I mean, like, going out. A club? Yeah right. Taking hours to get ready and wearing high heels and doing my hair and wearing pants that are way too tight. I mean, no. Give me some yoga pants and a glass of wine. I’m super set, guys.
7.     I just don’t have time for things anymore. And, I don’t just mean for TV (which is true – I hardly watch TV anymore). I mean bullshit, really. I don’t have time for people who don’t make time for me. I don’t have time for people who are selfish or flakey or people who waste time trying to be 22 still. I have a handful of people in my life who support me, who make me laugh, who I enjoy spending time with, and those are the people I make time for and want to make time for. Everything else? Sorry, man.


So, this is pretty much 30-year-old me. That number used to terrify me and I used to be so anxious about where my life wasn’t at when this number was looming, but now I’m embracing everything this next phase in my life is bringing me. Thirty for sure is the new twenty.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the fat diaries.

I think as a woman, it's normal to always think you're fat. Am I right? I can't think of one woman that I know or have known that has said, I love the way I look. I have the perfect body. And, I don't think I've ever thought that way, either. No matter how skinny -- or not so skinny -- I have been, I've always thought I was fat.

Here's my problem -- I love food. No, like I LOVE food. I love eating at fancy restaurants, not just because I feel super posh and important, but have you HAD any food made at a Thomas Keller restaurant? (If not, you're missing out.) I love baked goods and In n Out (double double with cheese, ketchup, pickles and chopped raw onion only please) and my sister's gluten free black bean chips and peaches and Taco Bell (YES. I love the taco beezy and crave it every once in awhile. It's disgusting, but SO good.) and french fries and my mom's stuffed mushrooms and my dad's spaghetti sauce and legit homemade pasta and my grandpa's torta and my sissy's cookies. Food is delicious and comforting and an experience. I love trying new restaurants and going to places with a cool atmosphere and a good wine list and a full bar with froo-froo cocktails (although, I pretty much only order a vodka with tonic water and a lime).


So yes. I love food which means I'm not the skinniest person you've met. Now, look, I KNOW I'm not fat, but when I put on a bikini, I definitely don't look super cute. Also, I'm the heaviest I've ever been, which doesn't make me very happy, either. Granted, the difference between my previous weight and now is only about 10 pounds, but when you're only 5'4", 10 pounds is a lot.

As I've gotten older, it's become harder to be comfortable with my body. I hate what I see when I'm in my skivvies, staring at myself in the mirror. Or, try spending 10 days in nothing but a bathing suit -- it was 10 full days of critiquing, chastising, guilt-eating, and comparing myself to every tan skinny person in Hawaii. My body is not my friend right now.

While, yes, I know I can workout more, get myself in a routine, and probably have a better body, the reasons for working out shouldn't be strictly to see a specific number on the scale. The routine should be about feeling healthy, even if I'm not 100% happy with the way I look, and about my mental health just as much as my physical health.

The struggle is not to be obsessed about weight and about the numbers I see and wear and buy. The struggle is to understand that I'm healthy, I eat relatively well, and I'm not overweight. The struggle is to like what I see and be comfortable in my own skin. The struggle is to drown out all the food noise and the body image noise and love who I am, not who I think I should be. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

a few of my favorite things. in pictures.

I was advised by my therapist a few months back to literally count my blessings. In an effort to change the way my brain thinks (i.e. to get my head to see my world in a glass-half-full kind of way instead of a glass-half-empty kind of way), she suggested that I begin to keep a Gratitude Journal and write down something I was thankful for once a night.

I don't know if keeping the journal is what has made this past month the best I've had in over a year, or if it's the other things going on in my life, or if it's a combination of all of it, but what I do know is that thinking about the things you're grateful for, whether something seemingly insignificant or something obviously important, really changes how you view your life.

In an effort to pass on this mindset and to promote gratitude, I've compiled a little top 11 list. WITH PICTURES. (Get excited.) It's hard to say if this is really THE top 11, because some of these are things many not seem as important in a year or so. Like coffee. But, right now, coffee is super important.



1. Cliche, but my mom and dad. They have seriously been amazing people my whole life, but especially during this past year and a half. They were cheerleaders of my writing while I was drowning in thesis, they were emotional supporters during the hardest time in my life, they let me stay in their home while I went back to school (and still let me stay here while I try to start a career). They are funny, fun to hang out with, generous, kind, and every other good word. I love them. (But I still want to move out, like yesterday.)



2. Coffee. Let's face it, I'm addicted to coffee. It gets me through the days where I feel exhausted. Hey, unemployed people can feel tired to. I mean, not as tired as working people, but still...



3. Isabella Sophia Moreno. I mean, look at her. Who wouldn't love her and want to eat her up? But, besides being irresistible, my life changed the moment she came into it. She's the one thing that kept me smiling last year and the only thing that made me feel like I could keep going. She makes me laugh. I love her in a way I never thought I could love another human. She's made me more patient, more understanding; she's made me a better person. We have a special relationship and I wouldn't change it for ANYTHING. I'm her La and she's my Bella.



4. My room. I LOVE my room. I spent a lot of last year doing a huge remodel because I was tired of living in a wannabe dorm room with furniture items that could hardly be considered furniture. Plus, it was a good way for me to work through the serious depression I was feeling. But, this is the first time I've loved my room. I picked everything out myself. I MADE my bookshelf. The only thing left to do is refinish the vintage dresser that's been sitting in my parents' garage that they've been begging me to attend to...


5. My closest friends. These girls/guys have been in my life through all my bad times and haven't run away yet. I've known some of them for 25 years, for 15 years, for 5 years, but these people have all been important to me and continue to be important to me. I'm grateful for the support they give, the laughs we share, the fact that I can talk to them about anything, the fact that they don't judge me. I've shared some pretty awesome experiences with them and I wouldn't trade these people for ANYTHING in this world. Mad love, right here.





6. Books. I love books. I love bookstores. I love buying books. I love the way books smell. I love books that have been worn and read over and over. I love brand new books that have never been touched. I LOVE BOOKS.



7. Joseph B. Meneghelli. If you guys know him and have met him, you know why. He's my favorite person on this earth, the person that holds our family together. He makes me laugh without even trying to. He's never said a bad thing about anyone, and even at 93, always helps everyone else out. He bakes cookies, makes jam, and goes bowling every week. He's pretty much the coolest.



8. My car, especially as of late. After going through my horrific car accident and losing poor Valerie (RIP), I've never been more grateful to own a car that's safe, reliable, and that I love. Plus, it plays my iPod, which is really the only thing that matters. Besides airbags, obviously.



9. My two closest friends aka my seeeeesssstttteeers. I'm so incredibly lucky to have my sisters in my life (even though one of them is in Washington) and that we have the relationship we have. They are special and cool and everyone should be jealous they aren't a Martinez sister. Except for Annie. She is pretty much one.



10. The gift of writing. Writing is the one thing in my world that I've ever felt good at and the one thing that has been a release for me. Writing allows me to express myself when I can't (which is a lot) and allows me to be anyone I want to be. Writing has brought me closer to people, has taught me more about myself than anything else in this world has, and has brought me out of some of the darkest moments of my life.


11. ...and Disneyland. OBVIOUSLY.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

let's talk about what we're not talking about.



I have a friend who recently went through a period of real struggle in her life. She shared with me that she had found herself not wanting to be around friends or to go out because she didn’t want to have to pretend like things were okay in her life and it got me thinking about why people feel like they have to put on a show for others. When I told her I completely understood how she was feeling, she said, I know. That’s why I confided in you.

How many times in my 29 years of life have there been where I wanted to shut everything out because I didn’t want to pretend either? How many times did I avoid people because I didn’t want to make small talk, to say I was “fine” or “good” or even “okay” when I was anything but? She knew I understood, so I began to wonder, why should we feel like we have to pretend?

No one wants to talk about depression and sometimes I wonder why. Is it because we’re embarrassed? Is it because we’re afraid of what other people will think of us? Are we afraid of the careful way people will begin to look at us? Are we afraid of the whispered words friends will share with each other?

When I think about why I don’t talk about it, understanding comes to mind. My silence is because I’m afraid people won’t understand. Depression is the dark secret in many people’s lives – including my own -- that others either mistake for sadness or mistake for a period of time that will pass. Depression seems to be that word that we use to describe days where we feel down or times in our lives where we’re going through difficult situations, and while those times are real, that isn’t the kind of depression I’m referring to.

The dark secret that many people, including myself, hide is the depression that seems to cover every aspect of a person’s life. It’s the thing that takes wonderful situations and sours them, the thing that makes every moment in life feel like a struggle, the thing that makes a person believe everything negative at every moment of the day. It’s the thing that makes it hard to get out of bed some days, the thing that makes the hardest worker into someone that doesn’t want to do anything, the thing that makes best friends and family into burdens.

We don’t talk about depression because many people don’t want to understand it. I’ve been called dramatic. I’ve been called selfish. I’ve been called lazy. I’ve been called a pushover. I’ve been called overly emotional. People want to see these actions and brush them off because for people who don’t suffer from depression, everything in life is a choice. For people who don’t suffer from depression, life is all about our mindset, about not letting things get to us and about choosing to feel a certain way, but for people with depression, our mind is the one thing that betrays us. What if it isn’t as easy as making a choice? What if when you wake up in the morning the only thing you can manage to do is stay put? What if your brain is wired to see things differently?

The truth is, I’m tired. I’m tired of keeping quiet. I’m tired of pretending. And I’m tired of feeling like my depression is a big scarlet A on my chest that makes me incapable of being a regular person. This secret has become my identity for so long, mostly because of the fact that it was a secret. I’m tired of depression running my life and I’m sure others out there are tired too.

Depression is real. It isn’t a feeling. It isn’t something that will pass. It can be debilitating. It can be dark and lonely. It can sometimes mean hoping your friends bail on you so you don’t have to go out. It can mean not getting out of bed until lunchtime. It can mean living in sweats. It can mean not wanting to talk to anyone. It can mean wishing you could be anyone else than who you are. It can mean imagining how death could be better than life. And, this is my life and it’s been my life for a long time. Sure I have days where things feel right and good and days where I can live and see all the things in my life to be thankful for. But, mostly my life has been about fighting through anxiety, feelings of loneliness, of self-hatred, and constant and oppressive sadness. I fight every day to see my life as it is in front of me, to enjoy friends and family and the luxuries of life, to see all the positives instead of the negatives, to love who I am and the life around me. But, when it comes down to it, my life has been a constant struggle. It’s a constant struggle to not let depression win. It’s been a struggle to be confident in the person I am and in the life I lead. It’s been a constant struggle to not let the world around me dictate who I am.


This is what we’re not talking about. This is the thing everyone wants to keep hidden and safe. Talking about it doesn’t mean I or any one else requires pity or wants any one else to feel sorry for us or treat us delicately. But, this is the thing that should be talked about because talking about it is the only way to get past it. Talking about it is what allows us to be free.