Thursday, July 7, 2016

the dreaded-ed topic.

I’ve debated writing this blog for a long time. And maybe it’s the reason I haven’t written a blog at all in over a year; because I feel like I haven’t had anything worthwhile to say. And because when I have, I’ve been too afraid to say it.

But, honestly, nothing scares me more than the things that have been happening in our world lately. These past few days, I’ve been reading — and seeing — some terrifying things. And I’ve been reading some equally terrifying things on Facebook. (Ugh. Facebook.) So. I’m going to talk about the dreaded topic: RACE.

Before I go in to this conversation, let me start with my background. I’m half white and half Mexican. (Yes. My maiden name is Martinez and it is Mexican.) I grew up in, arguably, one of the most diverse areas in the United States. I grew up surrounded by pretty much every racial background you can think of. Seeing faces of different colors was normal; I thought that’s what the world was. I remember singing songs about the melting pot and all the colors of the children and everything, and it was just ASSUMED that the people I was surrounded with were just…people. 

I’ve never really encountered racism. The biggest thing I remember was when my sister played soccer and was on team with mostly Latina girls. They were playing a team of mostly white girls and my sister said after the game that some of the girls were calling them wetbacks. But, even in my Catholic high school bubble, I didn’t encounter racism first-hand. I was still surrounded by people of all different backgrounds. College. Even graduate school. 

When the Black Lives Matter movement started, I was one of those people screaming, “All Lives Matter!”, not even knowing what it really meant or what Black Lives Matter really meant. I argued with a lot of people on Facebook. I argued as best as I could to make this idea that people died at the hands of cops for any reason but because of what they looked like truth. I read the comments section of article after article until one or two in the morning and while a lot of people infuriated me and a lot of people made me question our educational system and a lot of people just really upset me, I learned a lot.

I learned that even in the Bay Area, people still encounter racism. People of color get pulled over by cops more. People of color are more likely to be incarcerated and to be shot by police. People of color are scared of cops in ways light-skinned people are not. People of color fear for the lives of their dark children. 

I watch (parts of the video because I couldn’t stomach seeing anything more than that) a video of a black man being pinned down by two large officers and still being shot. I read about a cop shooting a man in a car after he asked for his ID and later the man let the officer know he had a gun. And being shot with his CHILD in the backseat. I read about 11 cops being shot by snipers and 4 of them dying because, apparently, the answer to these killings is by killing. 

And I read people on one end of the spectrum crying and pleading for people to acknowledge that racism is prevalent and to not just think, “Oh, well I have black friends and don’t hate black people so it doesn’t exist.” Or think, “Oh, well white people get killed by cops, too, and so did this Mexican guy I knew, so it’s not just black people.”

And I read people on the other end of the spectrum that cry that Blue Lives Matter. That not all cops are bad and that there are a lot of good cops out there who wanted to be cops to protect people from violence and injustice. 

And my question is, why can’t both be true?

I believe that Black lives do matter. I believe there is a problem systematically in a lot of police forces, and I don’t just mean violence against people of color. There is a power problem in this country with some cops; the good ‘ole boys club that is only concerned with looking out for each other. I believe there are some cops that, even if they came into the job with good intentions, now feel the power their job holds and abuses said power. Or people who were cops solely to have the power over other people. People underestimate what power can do to a person; it can take over. It can make you feel untouchable and unstoppable. 

But, I also believe there are good, true cops out there. A lot of them. I know some of them, inside and out of the force. There are cops that play by the rules, that go by the book, that want only good outcomes and never ever want (or have had to) fire their weapons. Cops that police because they want their communities to be safer and to be better.

I believe the biggest problem our country is facing is the division I see. The political divisions, the divisions between white and black (or white and any other non-white race), the divisions between “us” and “them”. We spend so much time fighting with each other, pushing our own agendas, clinging to our beliefs, that we don’t LISTEN. We don’t hear those that are crying out for empathy, for love, for answers, for CHANGE. We hear what we want and we’re comfortable in what we think is the truth. We don’t read. We don’t educate ourselves. We don’t want to talk about things. We want to fight. We want to bury our heads in the sand, tell ourselves that this doesn’t affect ME, and to carry on with our tiny little lives.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year. Oddly enough from Facebook. My view of the world has changed. I now know that even if I don’t fully understand or know what it’s like to feel targeted or feel like I need to live life differently, I can still have empathy and not shut down those that do feel like that. I’ve learned that this is a very, very real problem. And what is happening now, on both ends, is horrifying. It literally scares me. It makes me question my desire to have children. It makes me afraid for my nieces. It makes me scared for the cops I know who love their job and who go out every night risking their lives for their communities. I makes me afraid for the friends I know that have children of color and for the future we are setting them up for.

This is what I know. We can hashtag all we want. We can share articles all we want. But, what really needs to happen is that we all need to shut up and hear each other. To talk and not to argue. To read from credible sources (I’ve found that if an article isn’t from a credible, non-biased source, I rarely even read it). To step outside of our personal bubbles and try to see life and hear life from someone else’s mouth. To do our best to not judge what we see and what we hear, but instead to understand that everyone is SOMEONE. 

I’m by no means super educated on this topic. I didn’t write this because I feel like I have some sort of qualification or insight that someone else doesn’t. I wrote this because I feel like everyone I know needs to hear this, needs to accept this, and needs to start trying to understand those around them.

My only hope for this blog post? That people will start sharing their knowledge, that people will start listening, and people will start doing the only thing I personally know and can do to change this: to love each other, to strive to see the best in people, to help people, to listen to people. And to spread love.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Joy > Stress


There's so much of it going on in my life lately that I've found myself not sleeping, and when I do, I'm clenching my jaw so tightly that my teeth, jaw and head hurt.

It sounds super fun, right?

It's so funny because when you tell people you're stressed out, they always ask, why? Or, lately, they think that when I say I'm stressed out, it's all because of my upcoming wedding. (Don't get me wrong – planning a wedding is no joke and a huge stress contributor.)

But, LIFE is what's stressing me out. My life is not hard by comparison to many other's out there, but I hate when people use that as a reason to tell me I shouldn't be stressed out.  I mean, don’t get me wrong -- there are so many things I have easy in my life. But, my life is also incredibly busy and stress seems to follow busy. While I love my job, I work 40 (sometimes more) hours a week and commute 120 miles each day I'm in the office (which is three days a week). I'm in a transition period with my position, and while it's exciting, it also means a lot more work, which means more stress (and, at the moment, no extra money to make up for it). On weekdays, most of the time I don't get home until at least 7, and by that time, I only have a few hours before I'm getting ready for bed. There are nights were I try and cram my generally too-long to-do list within that short time frame, and either I'm so exhausted from not getting enough sleep the night before that I can only manage to sit on the couch and catch up on a show that I haven't watch in three weeks, or I'm getting things done up until the minute I get into bed and my brain hasn't had a chance to shut off, which leaves me wide awake at a time I should be sleeping.

My room is generally a mess (which if you know me, you know I CAN'T STAND) and my car hasn't been washed in months and most of the time, I'm lucky if I have a chance to vacuum up the hair that's accumulated on my bathroom floor (#thickhairprobs).

Not only is my spare time eaten up with wedding planning, it seems my life is BUSY. If it's not family gatherings, it's a wedding (I've got five this year. And that doesn't include my own) or a bridal shower or a baby shower or a birthday party or a housewarming party. (This is what happens when you get old.) Or it's a Saturday hanging out with friends that I'm making it a point to stay in relationship with, because these relationships are valuable and NEEDED in my life, and what's a friendship with out time together? Oh, and I do manage to see my fiancé on the weekends. 

And, then there's my health. Getting older brings so much more stress just in the fact that your body changes and isn't as easy to maintain. I've put on way more weight in the past few years than I would like to admit, and not only am I extremely unhappy with the way I look, there's just no excuse to be X amount of pounds heavier than I should be. The reasons? I love food and I've gotten busy and way lazy because of it. Oh, and I LOVE FOOD. Food has also become a source of joy and stress-relief and fellowship with other people. I want to see a friend? Hey, let's get dinner. Let's go to a movie. And then to dinner. Let's go shopping. And eat lunch. Let's go to bottomless mimosa brunch. (I mean, what's brunch without mimosas? NOTHING.) My days are spent trying to squeeze in a workout and to meal plan and make time to cook and make sure I'm eating as clean as possible during the week and not going too crazy with food (or wine) on the weekends. I stress constantly about the fact that I don't know how to lose weight anymore and being frustrated with the scale and battling with my closet half full of clothes that don't fit or don't fit comfortably anymore. I stress about how I look and how I feel due to how I look DAILY. It is a crappy way to live when you hate your body and not only hate it because you have a misconception about the way a woman's body should look, but because I know that I look this way because of my own behavior. I would love to see a number on a scale and not care what it says because I feel good. Right now, I feel the exact opposite of good about myself.

And, what about the fun stuff?  I miss reading, scrapbooking and crafting. I miss writing, whether it be here or on the many unfinished essays I've started or that are still in my head. I want to get published in a literary magazine. I want to write a book. I want to put all the hundreds of photos in have haphazardly stored in boxes and on my hard drive into scrapbooks. I want to watch all these TV shows people are always asking me if I watch. I want to see the movies I haven't seen yet and that people are appalled I haven't seen (almost all of the Star Wars series and The Godfather trilogy are two that my fiancé is beside himself that I’ve never seen). I want to subscribe to all the literary journals I loved in graduate school that I don't have time to read. I want to be immersed in the writing world again, a world I felt so close to when I was in my MFA program and that I now feel so far away from.

It's exhausting, isn't it? Reading all of this? I want to fit all these – and so many more things – into my very short days and it's almost impossible. How does anyone have time for life outside of the daily grind that we seem to fall in line so easily to?

What I haven't mentioned is what I remembered this morning is so important. I want to be a weekly church-goer again. I want to read my daily devotionals again, read the bible again, to be part of a bible study again. I fit God into my life whenever it's convenient for me, but have I forgotten everything? I've known God my whole life. I've believed in Him my whole life. It's all I know how to know. And, as I've gotten older, it isn't just because it's all I know, but because it's what keeps me from drowning completely in this world and in myself. There was a very long period of my life where I hated myself and (almost) everything around me. And, the only way I climbed out of the very deep hole I had created was to not just believe in God, but to LIVE God. Having something greater than myself – greater than this world – to trust in is a relief and a peace that only other God-fearing and following people can understand. It's this strange relationship where I don't physically see or hear Him, but every day, I don't doubt that He's out there somewhere.

I’ve been behind (almost a whole month) in my daily devotional, and while I’ve been beating myself up about it, maybe it’s for a reason. Every night when I’m reading one or two or three devotionals, I find myself NEEDING to hear what is on the page:

“REFUSE TO WORRY! In this world there will always be something enticing you to worry.”

And as busy as I am, as stressed as I am, as sad as I am that I can’t make the things I love come first, I look at my life, at my friends, at my family, at my fiancé who I love more that I ever thought it was possible to love another person, at my job, at the things I have in my life, and suddenly, the stress I have doesn’t seem as great as the joy that I have. Am I still stressed out? Obviously. It’s 9:12pm and I still haven’t done my 25-minute workout. But, you know what’s greater than stress? Absolute, pure, unadulterated joy.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

being a fan shouldn't be a complex

Baseball season has come to an end and while my post-baseball depression has started to sink in, there’s one thing I’m not going to miss – my A’s friends posting hate on social media and throwing shade to my team. Sigh. It seems that this year has been worse than previous years. The hater side of me would say that this is because the A’s should have had a postseason and they’re subsequently just jealous. But, I really don’t want to assume that. I honestly don’t know why the hate was so much stronger this year. But, whatever the reason, Giants’ fans have come to expect the hate and we’ve taken it in stride.

I came across this article on Facebook that a few of my A’s fans have shared and I’ve read it a few times. This isn’t the first time I’ve read an article and had a some kind of response to it. But, this is the first time I’ve felt strongly enough to reply. Why? Because most of this article is simply whining and disappointment from an A’s fan. There’s absolutely nothing factual in this article; it’s a lot of generalizations, assumptions, and, no offense to the author, but a lot of sour grapes.

So, as not only a Giants’ fan, but a baseball fan, I’ve decided to respond to said article. (You can read the full article here.)

1. We all know them. Those fans that know nothing about the Giants pre-2010…we know much more about their team than they do.

Okay, first off, this is one of those “facts” that I’ve heard from so many people, and not just about baseball -- the fact that if you liked something after it was popular, you're automatically a "bandwagon fan". (Just in case you were wondering -- I exited the womb wearing orange and black.) Whether it’s about the A’s or about people who started liking the Backstreet Boys in 2006 when they've been popular since 1998 or about people who just started watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (please don't do this) and claim to love Kim, but there are people who have been watching since they beginning, so they are the real fans. Etc, etc. So, the point here is because you have liked something longer, that makes you a “real” fan and anyone else who likes something after you – or after it’s become popular – isn’t? That’s like saying someone who just tasted a Hershey bar for the first time and loves it isn’t a real fan of Hershey bars because they haven’t loved it as long as someone else and can’t name the year it was first created or the name of the creator. What’s wrong with people liking something they haven't before or being introduced to something new? The Giants aren’t the only team to have new fans. Even your A's have their share of fans who only show up when they're doing well. I mean, look at the Yankees. I know so many people who like the Yankees simply because they are the Yankees. And WHO CARES? Let people like who and what they like. Judging the validity of someone’s fanaticism is as pointless as judging someone’s love of chocolate.

2. ‘Well we have the best park in Baseball.’ ‘At least we can fill our ball park.’ And this is what apparently makes them the best fans in baseball?

Actually, no, what makes us the “best fans in baseball” is the energy you feel at EVERY game in AT&T Park. Have you ever been there? I’ve been to games when the Giants were sucking and had no chance of a postseason and that park was just as energetic and buzzing and full of excitement as it was when they were winning. Even the talking heads on Fox said this about AT&T Park – and they hate the Giants and had nothing positive, besides this comment, to say about them. To us, our park IS the best because when you’re a Giants fan, there’s nothing better than going home to your team and being surrounded by thousands of other people that feel the same. Isn’t that what makes the Coliseum – I’m sorry, – the best park to you?

3. …I feel respect is due a fan of the opposing team who will represent in hostile territory. But you may want to think twice over at the fancy AT&T (or whatever it’s called). A lone female Royals fan was booed and cursed at, told to get the f…out…All I know is, that would not happen at the

Really? I’m pretty sure this happens at every Major League Baseball park. Your isn’t immune to this, just as AT&T (yes, it is called AT&T, by the way) isn’t. My parents have season tickets and their seats are in a section that’s known to house family, friends and fans of the opposing team. And never once have I been to a game and sat in those seats and witnessed anyone cursing at those fans, booing them, or telling them, to “get the f out”. Every team has stupid fans because stupid people exist. And, no team is immune from stupidity.

4. Then there are those fans that profess allegiance to the A’s, but if the A’s are out of the postseason, they will root for the Giants…You root for a team not a region! If you root for both teams then you are really not a fan at all.

First off, there’s a difference between rooting for a team and wanting to see a team do well. If the roles had been reversed, I wouldn’t have rooted FOR the A’s, but I sure would have loved to see them win. Why? Not because I’m not a “true fan” or because I’m a bandwagon A’s fan. But, if my team is done for the season, why wouldn’t I want to see a neighboring team do well and bring something positive into our community? Why wouldn’t I want Oakland to bring people together and to celebrate something good? Being a true fan doesn’t mean hating on a neighboring team, especially when they aren’t even our rivals. I can surely be a diehard fan and not wish ill on a team whose success has nothing to do with the success of my own team. I can love the Giants and want to also see Oakland be successful because I LIVE HERE TOO. And, it’s not up to you or anyone else to decide how true or untrue my fanaticism is.

5. I’m just slightly sick of seeing the same bay area team in the post season when the A’s have been fighting tooth and nail to no avail.

Firstly, and that’s the Giants’ fault? Again, the success of the A’s has nothing to do with the success of the Giants. And, sorry, but the A’s aren’t the only team in the MLB who has fought tooth and nail year after year. That’s the whole point of a baseball season; every team fights tooth and nail to get a postseason. It’s silly of you to make this statement as if the A’s are the only losing team who hasn't won in the past five years. Look at the Royals. They haven’t been in a postseason before this year in over 20 years. And, yet, here they are with a young team, new managers, and the same amount of fight as every other team, and they not only got their long-wished-for postseason, but they gave us a run for our money. And, I can bet you they didn’t hate on any other team when they were losing as a result.

I love my Giants. I love the players, I love their heart, I love their bond, their friendships, the respect they give their managers and coaches and owners, and the love they have for their fans and their community. But, my love of the Giants doesn’t turn to hate for anyone else when their season is over. I don’t hate someone else because of their shortcomings or complain when others do well instead. My love for my team turns into my love of the game and of the excitement it creates; the way it can bring a city together and create nothing but good news on the TV instead of bad. My love turns to the game, because isn’t that what baseball is all about, anyway?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Beverly Hills, What a Thrill.

I read that today marks the 25th year of the best movie to ever grace American history, and that is Troop Beverly Hills. As kids – you know, back in the late 80s and early 90s when you didn’t own movies or stream them but you actually went to a store and picked one to rent – my sisters and I would go down to Rodeo Family Video  every weekend and choose the same movie every single time. Yes. Troop Beverly Hills. We saw it dozens of times and it never got old. We loved it. I mean, what’s not to love? Rolls Royces (a fancy car we had never heard of), b-list celebrities we would not have otherwise known (Pia Zadora, Robin Leach, and a tiny cameo from Annette Funicello), comedy (“They didn’t have outlets.”), and, best of all, outrageously 80s, rich-people outfits. I mean, Phyllis’ wardrobe consisted of everything from giant fur coats to larger-than-life pleated shorts to fully sequined dresses, complete with fully sequined birds.

I loved everything about that movie, but secretly Shelley Long’s extensive wardrobe is what I loved most. I would look forward to the scenes where she would wear the outfits I loved the most and cringed when she would arrive in the outfits I loved least. I, like every other Phyllis-loving creature, had my favorite outfits and the outfits I couldn’t wait for her to not ever wear again (that is, until the next time I watched it).

In honor of its 25th anniversary, I’ve complied a best and worst dressed list that has been 25 years in the making for me. All starring our favorite divorcee-wilderness-girl-fashion-plate, Mrs. Phyllis Nefler.

Best Dressed:

1. Just Hanging Out in my Killer Satin Jammies and Matching Kimono Phyllis

Phyllis makes bedtime the place to be. I mean outside of the faboosh kimono (WHERE DID YOU BUY THAT), she’s topped off this black number with a metallic headscarf and oversized earrings. Killin’ it.

2. Revamped Wilderness Girl Troop Leader Ensemble with Matching Cape Phyllis

Who cares if you eventually have to pitch a tent in the dirt and cook squirrel meat over a fire started with two sticks? This masterpiece is all any troop leader needs in life.

3. Trimmin’ Trees in Animal Print and a Bitchin’ Hat Phyllis

Werk Bitch.

4. Casual Tweed Stay-At-Home Mom Phyllis

Makin’ sandwiches has never looked better. I don’t know what’s better: the tweed culottes one-piece, the sheer puffy sleeved-blouse or the matching red head-scarf-turned headband. If this is what not working looks like, sign me up.

Worst Dressed:

1. Yellow Mom Shorts with Matching Shoulder-Padded Blouse Phyllis

The Man With the Yellow Hat Called. He wants his outfit back.
* Bonus Points: Pre-Rilo-Kiley Jenny Lewis is killin' the popular matching floral shirt and blouse ensam. She makes banana Phyllis a little more bearable. Now, about those couches...

2. Easter Egg Tuxedo Dress With Layered Marshmallow Train Phyllis

I mean, why. That much pastel should be prohibited. Even during Easter. And the messy up-do, massive rose choker and bicep-length gloves? Listen to your own wilderness girls, Phyll: Too many accessories clutter an outfit.

3. Icing on the Cake Wicker Skirt Tee-Pee Dress Phyllis

 Just. No.

4. Every Shade of Purple Hot Mess Victorian Tea Party My Daughter Hot Glued Flowers to My Hat Phyllis

The least she could have done was choose one shade of purple and stick to it.

(Props and major thanks go out to the inspiration for unleashing my childhood fashion critic, Lindy West, who wrote this way-better and ultra-thorough article. While I don’t agree with (most) of her rankings, any one who can create a masterpiece as she has done is my heroine. Lindy, I hope you don’t mind my version. Thanks for the inspo.)

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.