Life Lately

It’s midsummer, and I’m taking a respite in the vintage wood-paneled basement so that I’m not exposed to the frequent heat/air conditioner dynamic. My lady lair, as I call it, one of two places where I can recharge and focus without interruption. It’s hard to believe how fast this season has gone, but I suppose it’s natural to feel that way when you’ve been making up for lost time in terms of social outings and get-togethers. In a weird way, I miss the extended periods of rest without the guilt (or wondering what I could be doing that would be considered productive). I try to take at least one day a week to get creative or just let myself be, even if I don’t get fully dressed or only get out of bed to eat and drink coffee.

After being fully vaccinated, I was eager and ready to move forward. I started a new job, and was simultaneously starting to do physical therapy (because pap smears, using menstrual products, and physical intimacy should never be associated with searing pain, regardless of what anyone says). I was finally tackling and making progress in important areas of my life, which was empowering and boosted my confidence as an adult and a woman. One step forward…

…And maybe one or two steps back.

It happened out of nowhere, and initially I thought it was just the typical muscle strain. But I knew something was off when it seemed as if my entire body could barely hold itself up. I was losing my balance and falling in random places, and could barely carry a cup of coffee at times. And then there were the aches, present throughout the day but would especially flare up at night. Not painful per say, but more annoying than anything. I have, and still continue to experience it in my arms, fingers, heels, elbows, as well as my legs. I wondered if it was just a symptom of trauma showing up in physical form from the pandemic, which is why it took time for me to make an appointment with my doctor. That, and I was afraid of being given a list of things that I couldn’t do anymore. 

After an extensive blood test, the results didn’t come up with any serious diseases (which I’m grateful for), and I have an appointment with a specialist next month. I suspect I know what it is based on some research I’ve done, though I’ve tried to avoid Googling anything in order to avoid unecessary anxiety. I’ve been told that I’m just looking for trouble, but I’m only trying to be proactive. There isn’t a whole lot out there about nutrition and health in adults with CP, and I’m in a unique situation where I’ve been physically active and healthy for most of my life. One of my biggest fears is losing my independence; there’s still a lot I want to do, and that includes living on my own, and having a partner (and possibly children). But ultimately I want to show up and be part of the full experience, whether that’s part of my personal life or my career. 

Come what may, I’ll figure it out and adjust accordingly. I always do. 

But I do want to feel good in my body again (which I haven’t felt since I was training for a 5K race in college). Coping with all of all of these things (pelvic pain, achy muscles/joints, etc) can be a very isolating experience. Pelvic pain in particular is something that not a lot of women talk about, and not a lot of professionals in the medical field know about. I continuously fight off the whole “am I enough over here?” and fight through when a lack of empathy tries to tell me that I’m not. I refuse to let any of this change who I am fundamentally, and I refuse to let anyone deter me from what I want to accomplish. In terms of support, I do appreciate people asking about updates and being checked in on. But if nothing else, it’s nice to be reminded that I’m not dealing with these things alone.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

On Celebrating My Body

Four years ago this month, I chose to take my body back, putting my energy toward healing rather than hurting and destroying. Recovering from an eating disorder is not black and white, and there is as much of a mental component as there is a physical component. The beginning of the pandemic rocked me mentally, and I found myself teetering on the edge of unhealthy habits in order to cope with the stress of the unknown. Anxiety left me with little to no desire to eat, and when I did I was concerned about my ability to keep it down.

There are times where this kind of journey, this process, this life, has felt like basic survival. Going through the motions. Taking steps and following plans in order to go forward instead of fall backward. And yes, there are seasons, like at the very beginning or after a relapse where that’s the best course of action. But at what point does one shift their focus from surviving and actually start living? Or living again? 

Celebration is vital, and it’s something that’s not talked about enough in support groups and communities. We can talk about body positivity, neutrality, love and acceptance all across the board, but it becomes an echo chamber if we can’t identify and therefore practice what it looks like. And we deserve to. 

Especially now. 

Take All The Pictures (And Pose)

The very invention of the photograph was to create and keep memories, and for a long time you had to appreciate it, regardless of how it developed. Even before social media, I loved picking up a camera and capturing the beauty around me, even at the risk of annoying everyone else. Photography has become a favorite hobby, and I’m not going to deny that I love doing photoshoots (and having mine taken). I haven’t spoken about it much due to the fear of frequent discouragement, but I have been curious about modeling, regardless if it involves money or not. I’m fascinated by the creativity, the set up, and the way everything comes together. 

I want to remember the days, the moments where I feel good; good, confident, and completely and unabashedly myself. As scary as it is to see my body change, it’s even scarier to think about where I’d be or what I’d have to go through if it didn’t. It’s a sense of maturation, a softening, even if it’s not conscious. Your body is allowed to evolve with your mind, and it’s part of why I wear less eyeliner, only use hot tools on my hair when truly needed, and am most comfortable when wearing less clothing. 

I try things, but I don’t share it all with the world, because not everyone deserves to see it. I have a right to pleasure and enjoyment, but I’m rather selective about who I allow into that part of my life. It already feels vulnerable enough, and if I’m going to make it public, there has to be a purpose. I reject shame, and making anyone else feel that way merely because we’ve had different experiences.

Cultivate a sense of Adventure

I adore exploration; There’s something romantic about getting on a train or a plane and wondering what the day holds, who I might meet, and how it would change my life for the better. The recovery time might take longer, and I have to priortize rest and relaxation in the same way I do having a social life. All I can say for sure at the moment is figuring out how to do both is ongoing.

My family and I had to delay a vacation due to the pandemic, and then ended up making it happen almost a year later. It took a lot of balance with making lists and doing research, while still trying to roll with whatever was out of my hands (especially in terms of weather). I’m still a work in progress in regards to asking for what I want, and claiming victory in speaking up and putting something out there. This is especially true for me in relationships, both personally and professionally. 

It’s the kind of curiosity, vision, and creativity that has carried me through a lot of hills and valleys in life, even more so in this last year. 

Move. Dance. And Don’t Worry So Much 

Movement is a gift, and one that I often take for granted. I love to dance, regardless of speed, and despite never having concentrated on one specific type. At times I’m hyper-aware of the way others might watch me, which is why I’ve never been keen on taking classes (due to the impulse of self-comparison and criticism, wondering why I feel like I could but can’t seem to do it like those around me). But when I’m with people, when the lights go down low and the music is loud, I give myself full permission to go all out.. Sometimes I’ll start in on it without fully realizing what’s happening. Sometimes I’m in church, and sometimes I’m on a sticky dance floor surrounded by old-school paneled walls holding memories that could span decades. 

I’m going to a wedding in a couple of weeks, and I haven’t been part of a crazy party since my birthday back in 2019. I’d like to think I’d kick my shoes off and completely let go, or maybe ease back into it, depending on what the vibe is. But I will be in my element, and I will try not to overthink anything. 

Sip and Savor

My relationship with food has been complex as far back as infancy, texture sensitivities and subconsciously absorbing elements of diet culture playing key roles. I know that I enjoy grazing/snacking more than taking in fuller portions, and the latter can be overwhelming to the point where it causes anxiety. I’d like to expand my palate more (I take pride in trying mushroom stuffed pasta recently), but it’s all in the baby steps. I don’t label any food as good or bad, and do my best to listen to what my body wants and when it wants it. Rather than restriction, I focus on variety, even though there are days where all I can do is get something in my stomach, even if it isn’t particularly nutritious. 

I want to be fully able to see food as an experience, rather than something to rush through or survive on. I love the meditative aspect of cooking, and the sentimentality of drinking coffee in the morning and wine or tea in the evening. It’s those parts of my day that force me to go slow, to look around me and pay attention. And if you’ve ever heard me make a raunchy reference to eating chocolate (mousse, gelato, etc) maybe after reading this you’ll understand why. It should be pleasurable, and damn it if it can’t be sensual every so often. 

And when I can’t rejoice in my skin, or the things that come with it, I simply try to show it compassion. Here we are, calloused fingers and toes. Thank you, slightly pudgy tummy that sticks out because of poor posture. It all moves and functions differently, but I adapt and I figure it out. 

Yes, I have thin privilege. Yet I also live in a handicapped/disabled body, which society at large does not celebrate (if that was the case, ableism wouldn’t exist). It feels like a paradox, looking one way but having multiple layers to contend and come to terms with. And that is a whole story for another time. 

Right now, I thank God for four years, and for the way he physically made me. Even where there are days where I struggle and question and want to just get it right already. 

Here’s to draping myself in grace, and grace for those around me.

Let it be so.

Inside

Off like a rocket it went

A brother dodging danger

A brief relief with a birthday and the beach

But when spring began it’s usual bloom

The warning signs began to blare

A virus, novel and like no other

From one corner of the world to the next

//

“Stay inside” reverberated some

While a so-called president twiddled his thumbs

Playing it off like a failed casino bet

Omission of truth, for who’s sake?

Declared a pandemic, despite the questioning and ignoring of common sense

Daily news briefs were almost too much to bear

Anxiety, chest pains, and lack of appetite by day

Depression descended as evening fell

//

“Routine, Productivity, Positivity!”

My body responding differently

I didn’t want comfort as much as I wanted personal connection

To physically feel common threads

My extroverted self a little lost in the hubbub

Afraid of losing the confidence I’d gained in the last year

//

So I stayed inside

Detesting “new normal”

Preferring currently reality

Though the unknowns loomed larger 

Than dormancy

A reprieve through walks and sunshine

Access to the water

Mom started a new chapter

The city came alive again

//

Behind closed doors

The desire to walk through fire

To support those who were struggling

To keep living, keep going

They needed me, and I needed them

Late nights

Deep conversations

Protective, patient, and learning how to hold space

Finding different ways

To carry them however I could

Capped by a reunion

A long time coming

//

And then the second wave

Predictable at one point

But could have been avoided

By collective responsibility and respect

The plea to stay inside again

Saved by the grace of changing colors and important milestones

I relished the tv specials

The snuggling up to read, watch, and just be

Real rest, without fear of missing out

My work in progress for as long as I can remember

//

But the fatigue is real

Body aches with unknown origins

Colder weather?

Lack of usual activity?

A response to stress?

//

Yet the most challenging aspect

Was not the confinement of four walls

But the confinement of thoughts inside my mind

Swirling around like storms

To reach out or give space?

To tell the truth, or pretend I’m ok?

Are you ok? Are we ok?

To ask for what I want/need

Or hold it in for as long as possible

//

Distraction could only do so much

When the healthy distractions weren’t always available

Overthinking, deeply feeling

Jealousy, more questions than answers

My prayers feeling dry and without heart

Sitting in the tension

I’m still learning

//

And as the calendar turns again

Cautiously Optimistic comes to mind

With new leadership

New possibilities

Changing seasons

A new year

//

I dream of music and dancing again

Lots of people

Opportunities for living

Being in nature

Assertive

Growing Confidence

Expression

Thriving

Roaring

When Your Squad Scatters

It was the summer of 2014, and by late July I was saying goodbye to life at the University of Iowa. I was terrified of the unknown, and it was honestly one of the hardest things I had to do at the time. Not only had I found my independence, but for the first time in my entire life, I felt like I had made some of the best friends that I’ve ever had. I hated leaving them, and what’s more, I didn’t like the idea of starting all over again. But life would go on whether I liked or not, and I could either figure out how to move forward or allow myself to be paralyzed by a number of fears that I have when it comes to relationships (both platonic and romantic).

Nearly five years later, I’m finding that there isn’t exactly a full-proof way to make new friends and keep existing friendships going. But it does take a lot of intention, patience, and loosening my grip on the ideals that have been ingrained in me since childhood.

 Be Open and Be Grateful

The fact that anything can happen post-grad is both overwhelming, yet full of so much opportunity. Many people end up in new corners of the world, or they go back to their hometowns in order to regroup and save money. Some are lucky enough to reconnect with friends from high school or even further back, but most likely are not going to be surrounded by peers within a particular age bracket. It’s completely normal to meet and spend time with those who are younger, older, and completely across the board as far as seasons and backgrounds go. Whether you join a church, a meetup, or stumble across a Facebook event, it’s about showing up and being consistent. It might be just a season, or it might be the beginning of something incredible.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t always keep us in the same place (especially in your twenties). Life can feel like a revolving door of people coming in and out, creating a lot of anxiety and wondering if it’s realistic to allow ourselves to relax and get comfortable. The best thing I’ve learned is to not take seasons or people for granted: be present when you’re around them, and put your phone away unless you really need it. Ask questions and make an effort to genuinely listen. Take pictures, even if they’re not worthy of posting. It’s not going to protect you from the pain if and when that time does come to an end, but it helps when you know you made the most of it.

Create New Traditions

This is a lot easier said than done, especially when you live in different states and have bills to pay. But we should always make room in our lives for things we want to do, as opposed to merely what’s necessary for survival. Whether you meet up one day a year for a football game at your alma matter, or pick a weekend to celebrate a birthday or two, put it on the calendar and go. It doesn’t even have to huge or expensive; it might just involve meeting up with someone on a weekly basis for coffee, or catching up over the phone. But adulthood does not wait for those who merely wait for the weekend before making commitments.

Give Some Grace

I cringe whenever I see a passive aggressive quote involving communication and keeping score. People already have so much to keep up with, along with trying to manage their physical and emotional health in the process. I’m learning that equal give and take, while ideal, is not exactly black and white (especially when mental illness is involved). We need to stop being so harsh each other and declaring that someone is cut off just because they haven’t texted or called in a while, although I’m aware that it’s a slightly different story in regards to dating and romance. I love to encourage and lift people up, and I’d rather have them know that I’m thinking of them, rather than hold a grudge over a lack of response. We might only talk every so often, but that doesn’t mean we love and care for each other any less.

It’s not always personal, and we need to stop vilifying others when we’re the ones who refuse to accept them as they are.

Enjoy Your Own Company

The majority of us have been conditioned to be social and eager to be in groups at all times. Much of my college experience involved having a variety of friends with all kinds of interests, and the dreaded fear of missing out had me constantly on the go in one way or another. I had it in my head that physically being by myself meant that something was wrong with me, and other than drinking my coffee in the morning, I was always uncomfortable with the concept.

Whether you’re brand new, or your friends or all in different places, you will confront that head on, and it’s ultimately up to you to deal with it. I’ve learned to be perfectly okay with a Friday or Saturday night filled with Netflix and my favorite food. I love going on walks for an hour or two at a time. And I definitely wouldn’t grow and evolve if didn’t carve out time to pray, journal, and read. I haven’t quite worked up the courage to go to restaurants or concerts by myself yet, and the former I’ve only done before or after an interview and I know I need food.

Love and Let Go

This has always been the hardest part for me. I’ve naturally grown apart from friends over the years due to distance, different interests, or just being in different seasons. But it’s another story all together when I haven’t been able to see it coming, and the only way to cope with that kind of change is to blame myself. A couple of years ago, I noticed that one of my really close friends had stopped responding to me checking in with her, and eventually she told me that she needed space. It was like a gut-punch, because we had never experienced any conflict up until that point, and she had always been kind-hearted and inclusive in the times we spent together during undergrad. I was on the tail-end of a very dark season, where from November of 2016 to March of 2017, I was the lowest I had ever been with my eating disorder, and was also trying to deal with a relationship where I was in way over my head. I had never felt so insecure and impulsive, and unfortunately I projected that onto other people that I cared about.

But sometimes life just happens, and there are things that we’ll never understand. When I love, I love deeply, and sometimes that gets mixed up with holding onto seasons or relationships too tightly. I’m not going to get overly angry or curse someone out merely for being honest about what they can and can’t handle. I don’t have the energy to be visibly pissed off, even if I have the right to. I believe in setting boundaries, but I do not believe in building walls. I often ask God to take care of such people in the ways that I cannot, and trust that He will do the rest.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic to have everyone be in your life, or at least certain aspects of it. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t hold them in your heart. Some will go in, and some will go out; but the ones who are meant to be there will always be standing in the doorway.

Friendship is a kaleidoscope of the ever-changing, one that can either bring out the best in us, or the worst. I often wonder if Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist, would we be really all that concerned about the size of our circles? The answer is both a riddle and a masterpiece, a wrestling match between how we think our lives should go and reality.

When you miss someone, send them love and give thanks. When you’re searching for someone, always try your best to be that kind of someone to others. It’s not a competition, or even a race. Life is always abundant, and what you have now is there for a reason. Savor it. Learn from it. And keep going.

Twenty-Seven

“Most people try to forget their birthdays, but you revel in it!”

I wasn’t sure if this was sarcasm or a compliment, but I couldn’t deny that I was trying to put some effort into making my twenty-seventh birthday worth celebrating. In previous years I’d struggled with expectations and feeling loved on this particular day, and it’s taken a lot of learning how to be vocal about what I want while also being present and appreciating things for what they are. I was filled with awe and gratitude over what happens when I allow whatever it is to unfold and not get caught up with the anxiety of the prison that often is my own head.

Twenty-six was unexpected, and a lot happened to where I still reflect and wonder how I got here. There were career ups and downs, most of which I didn’t see coming. Some of my dating experiences were amazing, but some were also disrespectful and even violated my personal boundaries. When it was good I was on top of the world, but when there was pain my first instinct was to close myself off and allow bitterness to seep in. I’d like to think that I’m a resilient person, but there were a number of times where all I could think about was, “I don’t want to go through this again.” I’d even get angry when a blessing that came after a long season of waiting seemed to be taken away faster than I could blink.

Life changes, and Life happens. You can hustle and pursue and try like hell to be perfect, but there will always be circumstances out of your control. I’m still learning, but I’d say the best resistance toward unforeseen storms is to be present and not take any of what you have in this moment for granted. It’s the balm that softens the loss of a job, the change in a relationship, or being rejected for whatever reason. And you have to allow yourself to feel and process before you can even think about there being a reason for it.

It’s been a constant back and forth between connection/closeness and feeling threatened, as though I’m in some kind of danger. I don’t like the extremes, and I want a kind of balance that allows me to interact with the world while still being aware of it. I believe in being both soft and kind-hearted, while being strong and not allowing what might just be temporary to break me.

Soft and Strong.

To not let the size of an opportunity make me feel small and insignificant.

To heal and cope with what I’ve buried in the back of my mind over time.

To not let the harshness of the world turn me into a shell of who I truly am.

Amen, and here’s to another life-changing year!

Perfectly Enough

Celebrating a year in recovery.

Vacations to several of my favorite places.

A job loss that led to something better.

Meeting awesome people.

Relationships growing and changing.

Welcoming a new baby into the family (for the first time in twenty years!)

Waking up the morning after an election, and experiencing hope instead of despair.

A reigniting of fire; to grow in my faith, and to grow closer to God.

And for the first time since I graduated college, actually wanting to celebrate the holidays.

2018 has been a plethora of things. An eclectic mix of joy and heartbreak. A mix that I struggle with summing up in a singular word. The magic wasn’t necessarily in the circumstances, but in the moments. As my sister said recently: It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly enough.

Oh, how perfectly enough.

I’ve noticed that reflecting often comes with the tendency to take it to the extreme; it was either amazing and we want to hold onto it for as long as we can, or it was awful and the end cannot come soon enough. But why do we always have to label anything as good or bad? Why can’t it just be reality, the kind where there are good things and there are hard things, but we can still say, “It is well”?

Yes, it is well, with or without the warm fuzzies to go with it.

I still have intentions for 2019; intentions in general aren’t filled with unrealistic expectations and leave room for grace and flexibility. They’re not centered on physical appearance or require validation, relying more on self-care, along with emotional and spiritual growth.

I would like to be as financially stable as I can be, and then move into my own place.

I want to write and read a little each day, whether it’s merely in my journal or a chapter in a book.

I intend to continue building my personal brand, and not get caught up in the numbers game.

I would like to join a small group again, and to focus on building relationships in person.

And I would like to get back into cooking, along with learning how to meal prep and plan ahead of time.

But most of all, I don’t want someone’s understanding or perception of me to determine whether or not I feel at peace with myself.

Let it be so, and may you have a joyful and prosperous New Year!

The Waterfall

The coffee was absolutely delicious.

The all-inclusive resort was a perk.

I’m not sure I would do the zip-line again, but I’m glad I tried it once.

Yet out of everything I experienced on my inaugural trip to Costa Rica, the highlight of them all was a little-known local spot that my family and I decided to spontaneously visit a day beforehand. We packed a cooler, hired a driver, and set out to cross a long-time item off my bucket list: standing under a waterfall.

We had to hike a bit in order to get there, but having done my fair share in Colorado and Arizona, I wasn’t all that concerned. As we got closer, I could hear the sounds of the water and began to giggle like I used to when I was a little girl (side-note: this is how you know when I’m really happy). I had to force myself to walk slowly so that I wouldn’t trip and fall over anything, which was a challenge as the anticipation kept building. Once we made it all the way down, I couldn’t believe my eyes:

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Swimming out to the surrounding rocky area was a little bit tricky; I wore my gym shoes so as not to risk cutting my bare feet, and apparently was so excited that I forgot to take my glasses off at first (I did go back and put them away, but initially I wanted to make sure that I was able to literally see it all). I put my arm muscles to good use throughout, and eventually clawed my way up and around, standing close enough to be under this sight to behold, but far enough away from the edge so as not to lose my balance.

There aren’t words to truly describe what I was feeling in that moment, but grateful would be a good start. I know that not everyone gets to do something like this, and certainly not everyone who deals with physical challenges like I do on a regular basis. I was thankful for legs that can move and eyes that can see. I was thankful for the risk we took in asking a stranger to get us there (and back). I kept saying, “thank you” over and over again, sometimes in my head and sometimes out loud.

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I’m not sure if I jumped off of anything or just slid back in off the rocks (probably the latter, because I’m not a jumping bean like my sister and didn’t trust what was at the bottom). We swam around for a bit, and at one point I tried to duck under the fall and so that I would be directly behind it. The current was incredibly strong and aimed to pull me in several directions, where I became panicky and momentarily thought I would get sucked under. It was somewhat scary because my body was getting tired, and I’m not exactly skilled at treading water. I eventually found my footing and stopped to rest in the shallow end.

Before we left to head back to the resort, I stopped and said a quiet prayer in front of this amazing creation. I had dreamed of doing something like this since I was a child, and knew that I would always remember it. If not what it looked like, than definitely the freedom and wonder and awe that I felt in the midst of it. I’ve never been a travel fiend, but this made me want to explore more. It also dawned on me that a lot of my bucket lists aspirations have to do with water. In my lifetime, I would like to experience the following:

Swimming with dolphins (technically I’ve already done that, but I would like to do it in a place where I’m not with a boatload of people and have a little bit more time to enjoy being around one of my favorite animals).

 

Slow dance more often; I haven’t slow danced since my senior prom, but I don’t have to be at an event or party. It only takes two people, am I right?

 

Be kissed in front of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

 

Witness sea turtles hatching, or just look at sea turtles. Turtles in general are adorable!

 

Have one of my essays be accepted for publication.

 

Sit on a rooftop and watch the sun rise in Chicago.

 

Meet the Blackhawks, or at least catch up a game up real close.

*I’ll keep adding as I think of things. This is just a shortened version.

I’m a dreamer. I’m a romantic. And I don’t mind it at all.

Back To The Beach




It was my first Southern experience, and about six years since I’d been to the ocean. I admit to being partial to Florida, but was slowly captured by the Carolina charm: there are at least a dozen radio stations playing country music and you can’t really go anywhere without hearing it. People call you darlin’ and say “bless your heart” without even having to know your name. I discovered that crab cakes aren’t half bad and have taken a liking to pink lemonade mixed with sweet-tea flavored vodka. I was once again painfully reminded that it’s possible to get ridiculous sunburned on a cloudy day, but also when it’s only sixty degrees. There are junk shops and tacky eateries for miles, although I found quite a few things that I don’t regret spending money on.

The weather kept us on our toes, as it usually goes whenever we travel somewhere with sand, palm trees, and water. It actually turned out quite all right, though I was determined to savor this trip either way: I kept my TV and internet usage to a minimum unless it was for work, as I usually do when I’m intend to relax. It made me wonder why people are so eager to unplug when away from home, but don’t try to give themselves healthy breaks the rest of the time. Why is it that we can’t incorporate the occasional umbrella drink, a nice meal, or quality time with those we care about into “real life”? Isn’t relaxation just a much a part of it as work?

I discovered that to truly savor something, you have to embrace all things encompassed in that moment, including your emotions. In the beginning, there were a few times where I ached for my Dad and brother to be there, as I miss all being together at once. I became frustrated over my sister’s anxiety about the lack of sunshine, and at one point we debated on making the ten hour drive just to see a few rays.

We stayed, and I’m grateful for it. The sun did makes several appearances and I came home looking like a bronzed lobster.

But nothing compared to the joy that I experienced when on the beach: the smell of saltwater and suntan lotion. Walks on the edge of the tide and finding a mixture of seashells and Bible verses written in the sand. The usual regret of thinking that anything below SPF 15  was enough, and the comfort of cool sheets at night that soothed the itch and burn of my Midwestern skin. I’m not sure if I would live in such a climate year round due to the danger of hurricanes and intense humidity, but the sound of the waves definitely makes me feel at home. It’s a place where I can experience God on a deep level and cry happy tears, surrounded by everything involving the natural elements of creation. 

The week culminated in people-watching at a beach club, while carrying on an unexpected but needed conversation. I don’t want to call it an epiphany per say, but in the days that followed I realized how emotionally liberating the exchange was. And I started to see that maybe it’s not necessarily about “letting go” as much as it is choosing to look at a situation differently.

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with family-related changes these past eight months. There’s been sadness and confusion, which is normal when there are a lot of unknowns involved. Yet I was also angry and scared, as though I couldn’t let it out and terrified of losing what I’ve always known, even if most of it was complicated and imperfect. Realistically, it’s completely natural (if not expected) to start building your own life once you’ve hit your twenties. I was recently reminded of something that my best friend said to me before we left college, that change doesn’t mean that relationships have to end, they just take a new shape. And while in one aspect something is coming to an end, in turn I’m creating my own traditions and pursuing my own path. Granted, divorce is still hard and hurts everyone involved, and in a way there’s no fully getting over it. But I do believe that there is light after darkness, and new beginnings after big changes. 

There’s a lot more that’s tough to articulate in one post, but I came home feeling like new life was blooming, despite the twenty-degree chill and bits of snow still on the ground. My heart is full and my soul is feeling less heavy, even if on certain days it doesn’t seem that way. 

Spring is here, and sometimes all it takes is a trip to the beach to see it.

Ocean Wide


I wrote this is honor of my best friend, who recently began a new chapter in her life in the Peace Corps. May God go with you, sweetheart. 





Ocean Wide
I can easily recall the ocean of my youth
A child looking out, wondering about
 All the mysterious creation contained beneath the water
Sharks, jagged edges, and perhaps even mermaids
An over active imagination’s paradise
Yet I feared submersion
Of having my dreams dashed by the powerful forces below
So I stayed on shore as the rolling tide teased my ankles
Begging me to join
Ten or so years later
Fourteen, sixteen, teetering on womanhood
The adventurous spirit within me awakens
I am cautious, but I long to be free
A day trip in a beach town I break away from the confines
Gallivanting into the waves on my own
Diving in between to feel the sting of salt in my eyes and nose
Dancing against nature
Only to realize that I’ve wound up on the other side
But I went unpunished, and later basked in a palette of colors
Shades of blue and pink surrounding me
Realizing what made me feel alive
The way I felt back then
A mirrored reflection of how I feel right now
One moment I’m terrified of the vastness before me
Yet eager for the opportunities that lie ahead
We’re now at age where it’s considered normal, if not expected
To go off in directions
Anything can happen
And whether that’s good or bad is as unpredictable as a rising tide
Some of us will only be separated by a phone call
Others by a couple hundred miles
Perhaps for a select few
An Ocean wide
There’s no way to know how things will change
How we’ll grow and evolve
How we’ll look, think, or feel once we meet again
But let’s not let love be dependent on stages and places
Rather, unconditional faith and support in one another
Seeking to understand, rather than just be understood
I don’t know what the future holds. But I know who holds the future
Let’s hold onto that promise, along with each other
My friend forever

No matter how far



Life Lately: When You’re Disappointed (and Maybe Even a Little Heartbroken)


Do I focus on the positive or the negative? The side embellished in sunshine and pretty colors, or the raw, deep and sometimes tear inducing stuff?

 That’s a question that I’m sure all writers and bloggers alike ask themselves at some point or another. That’s part of the reason why I haven’t been posting for most of February, as this month has come at me in a way that I was not expecting, nor was I prepared for.

My birthday was overshadowed by the passing of my sweet Yellow Lab two days early; she’d wandered off and was hit by a car, and there was nothing more that could be done. Despite that she was closest to my brother out of everyone in my family, but the loss was still devastating. Knowing that she was pretty far up in her years, I knew that time was going to come sooner rather than later, but I believed that at the very least I would be able to say goodbye. However, this was not the case, and as it usually goes with any kind of upsetting or heartbreaking news, I found my mind going numb. All I wanted to do was curl up under the covers and cry.



And like most losses do, this caused me to start thinking about my choices and making the most of the time in front of me. That’s why when one of my best friends invited me on a road trip to Nashville, I took her up on it. Granted it took some deliberating, but I ultimately made the decision because I wanted to do something different, and it’s been on my list of cities to visit (along with San Diego and San Antonio). I’m in a place where I want to explore and try new things, and am now slowly building the means to do it. Unfortunately this trip was abruptly cancelled; and while I understand the reasoning behind it, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t disappointed. It taught me that circumstances don’t always result because they’re supposed to; sometimes it’s a result of poor planning or not thinking, and sometimes stuff just happens that no one has any control over. 

Life has been going at a pretty steady pace; I’m finally getting into a routine with work, exercise, and relaxation. But yet at times, I still get the sense that something is missing, whether it be excitement or being in community with others for more than one day a week. Though it has been a little over six months since I moved back, it’s still very easy to get lonely out here. In the last week or so, I’ve realized that it’s not business that keeps me going, but the intentional effort to feed my soul. In order to center myself spiritually, I’m making a point to start and end my day with God. Saturdays and Sundays will now be dedicated to creative writing and/or journaling, unless I’m in a place where I don’t have access to my computer or a notebook. And though getting around is a bit of a challenge, I want to get involved in at least one or two meet-up groups or organizations.

But the one thing I miss most right now is the deep conversation, especially now that I’m more confident in who I am as a person, It’s not so much for the lack of friends as it is less opportunities than there used to be. Granted there are plenty of phone calls and text messages, but it isn’t quite the same as sitting face to face and observing their expression and emotion. I miss the no-holds-barred, no sugarcoating type of talks, and that’s a big part of why I often send people unedited versions of my writing; maybe we don’t always get to spend time together or catch up like we did in college, but at least they’ll know what’s on my heart. 

When all is said and done, I do feel like I’m out of my element, and not having access to what makes me feel alive all the time is still taking some getting used to. 

However, I’m grateful that places like that are only a bus ride or a train ride away, one which I’ll be embarking on in a couple of hours. One extreme positive about post-grad life is that you really have to plan ahead if you want to make things happen, which I’ve always been a planner and have been for practically my whole life. And though various things haven’t worked out like I thought they would, it has been all right in the long run. There’s still a lot happening right in front of me, and there are plenty more adventures yet to come.