Goodbye Old, Hello New

31 December 2015

Photo Cred: WeRomantics
A lot has been on my mind of late, and it has been hard for me to formulate the words to express myself completely. Holidays, opportunities, reflection, illness, and a minor social media bullying incident have all been occupying my thoughts. But enough is enough, and today I shall try by saying goodbye to the old year and hello to the new.

2015 was a fairly good year:

  • My relationship with Alex grew, and I learned a lot about myself and how to be in a relationship.
  • I traveled quite a bit, and learned that I'm not as young and spry as I once was.
  • I gained a niece and fall in love with her more every time I see her.
  • I paid for a Classpass membership and have challenged myself physically and mentally.
  • Alex and I moved to a new apartment, which tested how well we work together under stress.
  • I became a member at my favorite winery and have been enjoying learning more about wine with Alex.
  • I took on new responsibilities and challenges at work, and it's taught me about flexibility and setting realistic expectations.
When I look back, I see a year of growth in ways that I had never expected. It's been challenging, but with my partner at my side, I felt supported through it all.

As for the coming year, I see even more opportunities for growth. I have already signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge (Adventure Series, no less), and look forward to hitting the trails that I've always wanted to explore, as well as spending lots of time on my old favorites (like Falls Creek Falls and the Wahkeena Loop). I will continue to try new activities through Classpass as well. There is nothing more satisfying to me than pushing myself physically and doing things I didn't think I could do.

What is more, I wish a few things for 2016:
  • Mercy. It is not something I often hear about, and with social media, it seems we are all too ready to send anyone who offends through the ringer. I hope that I can display some mercy this year, and hope to see more of it in the world.
  • Grace. This is tied to mercy, yet a little more personal. You know that bullying incident I referred to above? It involved a negative comment on Instagram by someone hiding behind a blank profile. I didn't respond and reported the account. And then I moved on, because I believe that that was the graceful response. But I really wanted to say something. The advocate in me wants to speak to injustice, to call out the wrongdoings and ask their purpose. But bullies, as I learned very young, live for the response. So I ignored the negativity and moved on.
  • Love. Above all, love. I have a lot of it in my life now, and I look forward to seeing it grow in 2016. 
With this, I wish you all a Happy New Year, and may it be filled with mercy, grace, and love.

What do you hope to see more of in 2016?

25 Days of Believing

01 December 2015

photo by weromantics
Happy December, my friends. It has been a while, but there is something about this holiday season that inspires me to share my thoughts and feelings. 

November was strange and filled with anxiety. I spend far too much time on social media, and I've begun to notice what a negative impact it has on my state of mind. Though I seek hope and connection online, I feel I find more despair and paranoia and ignorance. As I began looking forward to the holiday season, I was filled with hope, and was inspired to challenge myself this December.

The holiday season, for me, is a season of believing. Believing in Santa and elves and reindeer and snowmen come to life. Believing in sugar plums and candy canes and mom's Christmas cutouts. Believing in family and friendship and laughter and love. Believing in hope and joy and a higher power. There is so much wonder in this season, if only we seek it.

Therefore, for the 25 days leading up to and including Christmas, I am challenging myself to seek wonder and to believe. Every day, I will share a moment of wonder on Instagram, using the hashtag #25daysofbelieving. You can follow me here. I hope that you will feel inspired to seek and share as well. I truly believe that we can all make our lives a little better, and a little more magical, if we believe in the wonder of the world around us.

What do you believe this Christmas?

October Q & A

01 November 2015

Hey folks. I know this post is titled October Q & A, and that is because I began typing it in October. Publishing, however, did not happen until November due to a move and lack of internet in the new space. I'm still working on my new space, and still without internet in my own apartment, but I still wanted to share this with you. This post is inspired by another post on Liz's blog. Feel free to join in the fun and post your answers on your own blog, or in the comments below.

What’s your favorite way to pass time? What do you enjoy most?

I have an anxious mind. I have FOMO. I have so many things I want to do in my life in general and in every day. Naturally, I have lots of favorite ways to pass my time. I'm one of those lucky ducks who actually enjoys hanging out with her family, so I love when we all get together and eat and play games. I love playing with my nephews. I love holding my baby niece. I love watching movies with my love. I love staring at my dog and gushing over how cute and soft she is. I love going for walks, especially in the woods. I love coloring in my adult coloring books. So many ways to pass the time, and so little time to pass.

What is the best or hardest decision you have ever made?


Making the decision to put down my old dog whose quality of life had diminished severely. 


Describe your personality with only one word.

Genuine.

What’s been the most important/transformative moment in your life during the past year?


As for a single moment that has been most transformative, I'd say it was a wellness session at work when I came to the realization that I am someone who needs to vent in order to get things off my chest and move forward. When someone listens to me when I vent, I feel heard and validated, and I am able to either get over whatever was bothering me, or begin looking for a solution or understanding. I realized in that moment that there are venters (and those who understand its necessity), and those who can't stand venters (those who see venting as nothing but unproductive complaining). This has helped me to be more discerning in who I choose to vent to, and try to gain some understanding from those who are around me when I vent.

What is standing between you and happiness?


Nothing. I'm quite happy.

What (or who) are you most grateful for?


My family. I am incredibly grateful to have a family that I love spending time with, that makes me laugh, and that supports me. Not everyone is so lucky, and I recognize that.

Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but have never done before?


Big dream: see the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Little dream: bake a chocolate souffle.

Where have you lived in your life? If you’ve never moved (or even if you have), where would you like to try living?

I've lived in: Ohio, Michigan, New York, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, and France.

What is the most important/most meaningful thing in life?

Love.

In one sentence share what your wish for your future.


I wish to always have enough and always be enough.

Where do you find your inspiration + motivation?


I find inspiration all around me, and motivation comes from within.

What is your motto in life?

See this post. 

My Mantras

22 September 2015

I am typing this up from my listing in Oslo, where I have decided on a night in, off of my feet and away from the bustle of the city. I should be out, enjoying the city and soaking up everything while I can. But I don't want to. It's my vacation, and I live life my way. Which happens to be one of my mantras.

I am joining up with Liz to share my five mantras. Solo travel tends to give me lots of time for introspection, and Liz's post struck a chord with me. As I wind down my vacation and face returning to my normal life, I am taking a moment to consider my five mantras.

Be a Weeble.

When I was going through a significant bout of depression, this became one of my mantras. When you're depressed, getting out of bed becomes an incredibly difficult task. Making it through a day at work without tearing up for no good reason was damn near impossible. At my worst, I would remind myself: "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down. Be a weeble."

Choosing to be a Weeble meant getting out of bed, despite wanting to wallow beneath my duvet for days on end. Being a Weeble meant stepping into the restroom when I needed a good cry at work. Most of all, the Weeble mentality meant constantly fighting the depression and not allowing it to win.

Now, whenever I feel like giving up, I remember this mantra. For me, it is absolutely perfect that it sounds silly because that's me in a nutshell- seemingly serious, with a taste for ridiculousness. It's a lot easier for me to remain determined when I remind myself to be a Weeble. It also reminds me to laugh when I'm wobbling.

I live life my way.

One of the luxuries of being someone over the age of thirty is not giving a f*** about the "rules" of life. There are countless blog posts proclaiming the rules of what to wear (or not wear), how to eat (are we supposed to be eating clean now? what even is that?), how to be successful (with a rather narrow definition of success), and so on. If I see another "article" proclaiming the 10 Things All Emotionally Stable People Do Every Day, I think I might scream. In reality though, I'm more inclined to rant about them to my boyfriend, sister, or anyone else who will listen and then scoff at their ridiculousness. I live life my way! F*** the rules!

In life, you are going to encounter lots of people with lots of different opinions about how things should be done. I recently wrote about the way I travel because of I talk I heard back in February that completely offended me. I was basically told that if I step foot into a museum, I have failed at travel. Ahem. I minored in Art History. Museums give me travelgasms. I can't help myself. I live life my way, and that means museums.

This also means being ok with saying no or calling it quits when it feels right to me. Like right now, I am exhausted from walking all day. Perhaps I should be out enjoying all that Oslo has to offer, but right now, staying in and enjoying me-time sounds perfect. No, it might not be Instagram-worthy, but my life is not measured by the quality of my Instagram posts. I live life my way, every day.

Own your feelings.

I haven't always been honest about my feelings. In fact, I've spent a good chunk of my life hiding my feelings away within my deepest depths, behind lock and key. Feelings were raw. Feelings usually brought on shame. In short, feelings were bad.

And then I got older and realized I have a lot of feelings, and that I feel a lot better when I discuss said feelings. I feel especially better when I find that others share those exact same feelings.

One of the biggest ways this manifests itself in my life is in advocating for my introversion. Being surrounded by noise, movement, and people makes me feel extremely anxious and agitated. When I don't express these feelings adequately, I am inclined to have a panic attack. But when I speak up, I can let people know that I'm not a jerk who's flipping her s*** for no good reason. I'm having feelings, those feelings are ok, and I need help in processing and responding to these feelings.

Go with your gut.

My current job requires me to rely on my gut on a daily basis. It just so happens that my gut is always right. I'm definitely in the right place.

There have been times when I tried ignoring my gut and things turned out poorly. My gut told me to kick my ex to the curb after the first time he left me. My gut told me that working for my horrible terrible boss a few years ago would not end well. I've since learned that I should always go with my gut.

Then there are the times when I am listening to my gut, but others believe I'm wrong. Whenever I have a yucky feeling about a person, I tell people about the time I had a yucky feeling about someone who ended up murdering his girlfriend. The gut knows, and I trust it.

Don't shine the light, be the light.

This has been my biggest mantra this past year. It's not the easiest one for me to live by, as I am often so wrapped up in my own inner world that I do not notice what I am projecting to the world around me. As an introvert, I honestly do not feel like talking to people most of the time. And sometimes that means putting on a look so that others get that message.

But this mantra has the deepest meaning for me. I was raised Baptist and evangelism was gospel. A good Baptist will preach to everyone they meet about how good God is and that the only way to salvation is Jesus. There's a lot of talk about how Jesus loves everybody. But it was all just that to me: talk.

I came to realize that so many who proclaim God's love do a very terrible job at projecting God's love. It's one thing to tell others what God does or how God feels. In all reality, just proclaiming to know those things is absurd, which is even pointed out in the Bible (it's called humility). It's a completely different thing to truly love others. To act with love toward your fellow human beings, no matter whether you agree with them or not. 

So, in my way, I try my best to live by these words. One way I do this is smiling at people. Or smiling through difficult challenges (I've been complimented on my smile in barre class, when I had no idea I was even smiling). Another way is genuinely listening to people, and making them feel heard. I've found that that is a trait that can go a long way, and one that brings about real connection, even if just for a moment. But I think brief moments of light strung together in time make up for one bright light.


These are my five current mantras. They're not exactly original, but they're true to me. They might not work for you, and that's okay.

What are your mantras?

31 Questions (and Answers)

07 September 2015


This post was written on Sunday Evening. 

1. Where’s your cellphone? Right next to me.

2. Where’s your second half? In the bathroom.
3. Your hair? In a ponytail, and constantly between my fingers (I fidget with my hair).
4. Your mood? Content.
5. Your plan for today? We celebrated Labor Day/my dad's birthday (early) at my parents house with most of the family, then did a little bit of necessity shopping at Target. Not planned: happy hour and darts.



6. What’s the best you know? Seeing an excellent movie for the first time in the theater, and at the end  of the movie, everybody loved it so much they clap. When babies grab on to your finger. Big, fat snowflakes falling softly at night. When he rests his hand on my lower back. Watching my dog sleep. Laughing so hard you cry. Sister time. Warm sand between my toes.
7. Your dream last night? I can't remember much of it any more, but I do remember piling up broken-down Kleenex boxes and opening up a fresh box of Kleenex.
8. Your goal in life? To love and be loved.
9. The room you’re in? Living room/bedroom (we live in a micro studio).

10. Your hobby? Reading, writing, Classpass, hiking, drinking wine and beer.
11. Your fear? Losing my loved ones. Falling down. That my city will change so much that it no longer resembles the place I grew up in.
12. Where would you like to be in six years? Living with Alex in our own small home.
13. Where were you yesterday evening? Hanging out on Mississippi Avenue. First drinks and food at Sidecar 11, then photographs by some photographer taking portraits of Portlanders in a truck on the street, and finished up with drinks at Interurban. I made it a bourbon night.
14. What are you not? Inauthentic, insincere, careless.
15. Something you wish? To live in a cottage in the woods.

16. Where did you grow up? Michigan, Upstate New York, and, mostly, Washington State. In the woods.
17. What was the last thing you did? Put on my pajamas.
18. Your clothes? Pajamas. I love pajamas.
19. Your TV? My trusty 32-inch Sony, directly across from me on an Ikea shelf.
20. Your pet? Lucy, my papillon.
21. Your computer? A Macbook.
22. The best thing you own? Possibly my nude lace bra. It is incredibly comfortable, which is saying a lot for a bra (and coming from a busty gal).

23. Do you miss anyone? My Grandma Louise. I would love to have dinner with her.
24. Your car? A 2006 Kia Optima.
25. Something you’re not wearing? A bra. Because I'm in my pajamas.
26. Favorite store? Target, Sephora, Nordstrom, Powell's, and Trader Joe's.
27. Your summer? Very low-key. Mainly trying to stay cool during our intense heat waves.

28. Do you love anyone? Yes- I have a lot of people that I love, and for that, I am quite fortunate.
29. Favorite color? Not so much a color as a tone- I love jewel tones. Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Amethyst.
30. When did you laugh last? Probably walking home with Alex this evening. He makes sure I'm always laughing.
31. When did you cry last? Last night, when it hit me how much I miss my Grandma Louise.
I wrote this post after feeling inspired by Liz's post (a new-to-me blogger) on Sunday. I'm hoping to get back to writing more as Fall approaches, especially hoping for some inspiration during my upcoming trip to Scandinavia, and so this is a start. If you feel so inspired, feel free to answer a question or two int eh comments below, or better yet, write your own post and share!

Fear of Judgment

31 August 2015
Source
Today as I walked away from the dog groomer's where I had just dropped off Lucy for a much-needed trim, a multitude of judgmental thoughts barraged my mind. I feared that, upon my return to pick up Lucy, the groomer would berate me for letting her claws get too long, or for how grinch-like her paws looked. I was prepared to parry each accusation with my well thought-out excuses, and boy, did I have some good ones (such as only being able to call to make an appointment, as opposed to easily making an appointment online). In fact, my mind was so preoccupied with these imaginary conversations and judgments, that I walked a block further than I needed to in order to return home. I was majorly worked up.

At first, once I realized what was happening with my thoughts, I tried to tell myself that I could care less what anyone thinks. Anyone can judge me, but those people don't know me. Haters gonna hate.

And then it dawned on me.

These imaginary judgments that I so fear from other people speak more to the judgments I hold of myself. When I come up with excuses as to why I have not taken Lucy to appointments sooner, it's because I am judging myself for not having done so. I feel guilt and shame for not being a perfect dog mom. Lucy deserves the best, and I want to give her the best, but I fall short. And that's ok.

This realization about my fear of judgment has had me rethinking other places I've felt this way lately. In my barre class this morning, there were only three of us, including the (tiny) instructor, so when I had to do plank and pushups from my knees instead of my toes, I feared judgment for being too chubby and not strong enough. When skinnier girls come into barre classes, I always fear being silently judged for the rolls that push through the belly of my workout tank. What's really going on is I judge myself for not being stronger, and for not being thinner, though I know the truth behind both of those statements.

And then there are the bigger life judgments I have about myself. I fear that people think I'm flaky, or that people hate me for being terrible at remaining in contact with people that I don't see every day. In reality, I feel shame and guilt for not being that amazing person who keeps in contact via text and hangout sessions with every cool person I meet and call friend for a time. At the same time, however, I understand the boundaries I have in place in my life, and that those boundaries may keep people out, but they're necessary to my well-being. And that's ok, too.

In the end, I need to remember the name of my blog, and keep it in mind when the judgmental thoughts start parading through my mind. The judgmental script is not one that suits me, and therefore, I am tossing it out. I'm a human being, I mess up a ton, and I don't owe anyone any excuses. Not even myself.

Why I Travel

24 August 2015

I've read a few articles recently about travel, what it means, and how people do it. Some argue that unless your travels transform you, then you are doing it all wrong. Others remind us that travel is first and foremost a privilege, so as long as you find travel fulfilling and recognize that not everyone has the opportunity to travel, you're golden. Some travel with no more plans than an airline ticket, and others schedule nearly every minute of every day. For whatever reasons and however one does it, it seems that everyone has an opinion about travel.

So why not share mine?

I have always recognized the privilege of travel. Growing up, I dreamed of visiting faraway places like Egypt and the Amazon. Travel was this wondrous thing, something that would show me worlds of which I'd only ever dreamed. My childhood reality was that most of my travel was to visit family in the ever-enchanting state of Ohio or regular day trips chasing trains with my dad a bit closer to home. Either way, travel was always about family. 

During my teen years, my dad started a tradition of taking me and my siblings on special trips so that we could have some quality time with just him. My dad traveled a lot for work (ok, he still travels a fair bit), so these trips were like catching up on time. Being the dreamer that I was, I convinced my dad to take me to Disneyland for my special trip. Dad and I had loads of fun riding all the rides at Universal Studios and Disneyland, and our last day of the trip was about business. You see, when you're one of four kids in a middle class family, travel isn't the most affordable, so rolling a fun getaway into a business trip was our best option. 

Even as an adult, I have been on a few more of my dad's business trips. Our trip to New Orleans was a lot of fun, as my dad and I got to explore a city that was vastly different than any other I'd ever visited. I ate a lot of crawfish and bananas foster, and even got to play a washboard with a Cajun band. We listened to jazz while sitting on the floor of the Preservation Hall and enjoyed hurricanes (the drink, not the storm) in a tucked-away garden patio. This trip was all about exploration and bonding with my dad.

I didn't really start to do the kind of traveling I'd always wanted until the year I studied abroad in Poitiers, France. During my entire stay, I took any chance I had to hop a train or cheap plane to various parts of France and Europe. The way I saw it was that I had no guarantee of ever returning to Europe, so I had to make the most of it. I fantasized about being a princess in chateaux in the Loire Valley, I took in every piece of art in the Louvre (not really, but pretty near to it), I teared up at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, enjoyed choucroute garnie in Alsace, saw the Queen up close at Westminster Abbey, ate haggis in Edinburgh, drank Guinness in Dublin (while watching Irish dancers dance to live music), celebrated New Year's Eve with local strangers in a tiny Geneva restaurant, froze my toes off while visiting Neuschwanstein, climbed to the top of Giotto's tower (and freaked out when the bells started ringing), and consulted the Oracle at Delphi (ok, no oracle, but still a magical place). That's not even everything. The point is, I saw and did as much as I had energy for.

And then I did more when I lived in France for a second time.

Post-life-abroad, my travel escapades have been a bit further and fewer between. Adult jobs and responsibilities, as well as having an expanding family (nephews and niece, and my dog), mean that travel is much more of a luxury than a way of life. I've done some more traveling with my dad (New York City and London) and some on my own (Hawaii and Paris). My travels during this period have been much more deliberate, if that's even possible (I thought I was pretty deliberate before). New York City was all about realizing a childhood dream, as well as celebrating my birthday with my dad and sister. London was less deliberate, but I still managed to engage with the city on a level I wanted, and reconnected with some of friends from my previous life abroad. Hawaii was about a lifelong dream as well as an obsession with a certain TV show (as well as an insane sale on airfare which made it all possible to begin with). Paris, my last trip abroad (as well as my last vacation- 4 years ago) was about escaping my current circumstances (I'd hit an all-time low when it came to my struggle with depression and anxiety) as well as reconnecting with a country that I loved, and brushing up on those old dusty French-speaking skills that I'm still paying for by way of student loans. Oh, and that Paris trip was also made possible by an insane deal on airfare.

In less than 4 weeks, I will be embarking on my next big trip: a two-week jaunt around Sweden and Norway. This trip is all about exploring a land that seems foreign to me, as well as reconnecting with a dear friend from my life abroad.  I want to eat and drink things I've never heard of, I want to visit museums that will teach me about a history I know nothing about, and I want to wander streets until I find that perfect little chocolate shop/brewery/cafe/bookstore. Mostly, I seek to spend two weeks in the present, with little distraction from the past and future. 

TGIF: Happy

30 July 2015
Fox's birth day on the left, Delilah's birthday on the right

Happy Friday and last day of July! I know it's trite, but I can't believe how this month has flown by. One month ago I was anxiously anticipating the birth of my niece, and now she's been around for a few weeks. Times flies when life is good. 

To share with you just how life has been good for me this month, here is my TGIF:

Trusting:
I'm currently trusting that I need to trust. Trust that my gut instincts are correct, as those are the gut instincts that got me my job. Trust that Portland is currently my home, and despite rising costs of living and threats of natural disaster, God put me here for a reason. Trust that great things can happen more than once in a lifetime. Trust that the ones I love are going to be okay.
Grateful:
I'm so grateful that my niece made her entrance into the world, and is a happy, healthy baby who is loved so much by my whole family. I'm also grateful that I was able to be at my sister's side, holding her hand as she gave birth. I was there when her first child was born, holding her leg up as she gave birth, through a process that she made look so easy. This time around managed to be somehow even more effortless. My sister is made for birthing babies, and I am grateful for that, because I love those babies so much. I am also grateful for the way that my sister and I have bonded through these times. I love my niece and nephew dearly, but nothing can ever replace a sister.
Inspired:
Lately, I've been inspired by the concepts of minimalism and capsule wardrobes. Separate, but related. Honestly, I've been interested in minimalism ever since moving into my micro studio last October. In the winter, my bf and I discussed the possibility of living in a tiny house someday, given how much we enjoy sharing 279 square feet of living space. I mean, seriously, a deep clean generally takes no more than an hour.  As much as I love to shop, I also enjoy purging, and I really enjoy knowing that everything I own has a purpose or is cherished (not always both, because my toothbrush is kind of lame, and feminine hygiene products are annoying). I'm considering doing this minimalist challenge before I go on vacation in September. Has anyone tried minimalism?
Faith:
I've been practicing my faith lately by saying little prayers. Prayer doesn't have to be a big fuss, and we don't all have to pray to the same higher power (yep, I said that). But I do believe in the power of prayer. I believe in putting my trust in something greater than myself, something that has the collective best interest at heart. And when that prayer gets me that only perfect parking spot? Priceless. But really, sometimes prayer is just setting an intention or asking for grace. 
Now that I've shared my TGIF, what are yours? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. 


TGIF: Heat Wave

02 July 2015

Hello my friends, and happy Friday! We're having a heat wave here in Portland, and it's tough to stay cool in my non-air-conditioned apartment. Summer came early to Oregon, which is funny, because we always joke about Summer not starting until July 5. Climate change is real, folks.

Anyway, I'm going to get straight to my TGIF for the week.

Trusting:
I am here because some people loved one another. Thursday night, as I lay in savasana in my yoga class, I thought about how much my paternal grandmother and grandfather loved one another, and how much my maternal grandparents also loved one another. I remembered reading my Grandma Louise's story about how excited she was to have my grandfather's baby- their only son. I also thought of how long my parents tried to have a child together until I was ready to come into the world. I am here because of love. This week, I am trusting love.
Grateful:
 I am incredibly grateful to my sister and her husband for giving me and my bf a fan for our tiny, un-airconditioned studio. Given the intense heatwave that Portland is currently experiencing, and which appears to have no end, having this additional powerful fan has upped the comfort level in our apartment, even if only a tiny bit. But boy, are all three of us (me, bf, and Lucy) grateful for that tiny bit.
Inspired:
This week at work, one of the chefs from our San Francisco office was visiting, and treated our office to a delicious afternoon snack of chocolate avocado pudding. I was reluctant at first, but after taking one bite, my mind was blown. This stuff is insanely delicious. I loooooooove pudding, but hate that pudding usually involves cornstarch (I am allergic to corn). The fact that there is a healthy, dairy-free, corn-free version of my favorite treat delights me to no end. This treat has inspired me to be more adventurous with healthy sweet treats. 
 Faith:
This week, I practiced my faith by responding to a comment on a Facebook post, of all things. Instead of getting into details, I will simply share something I shared there- my favorite quote from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol: “There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name; who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.” "Us" in this case refers to the spirits, and in my reading, I took it to mean God (the Trinity). This quote, though written in the 1800s, is still relevant today. So many lay claim to a faith in God, but that faith is only by their spoken claim- not by any of their words or actions. I hope that my words and actions demonstrate the love in which I put my faith.
I wish everyone a happy holiday weekend, and please, feel free to share your TGIF in the comments below! 
 

Accountability

23 June 2015
Photo Credit
Today on my walk to barre class (ridiculous, I know) from work, I overheard a phone conversation that at first made me angry and then, after I mulled it over, made me feel hurt. Not so much personally hurt, but a more societal hurt, if that is a thing. In any case, this simple conversation that I overheard made me think a lot more deeply about my community and society as a whole.

Let me set the scene: I'm walking by some office buildings through China Town, it's sunny outside, and I'm just trying to get to my class on time because not only is it rude to be late, but they won't let you in if you're too late. I hear a woman's voice behind me, probably mid-late twenties or so. The woman is talking to someone she knows on her cell phone. She is talking about why she did not want to give up her seat on public transportation. "She has a child, it does not make her disabled." I could not believe what I just heard. Someone validating their decision not to give up their seat on the bus or Max to a woman with a child. I waited a few moments to look behind me, to see if perhaps the woman speaking was disabled in any way. Nope. She was walking along just fine in her sundress, and definitely looked to be in her twenties. She continued to tell her friend why she should not have to give up her seat on public transportation just because a mother and her child boarded the bus or Max. All I really heard was, "I'm really, really selfish, and I need you to validate me in my selfishness." I wanted so bad to turn around and tell this woman just how entitled she sounded. I sped up instead.

As I marched on, I really hoped and prayed that the person this woman was speaking to would be a good friend and point out this woman's selfishness. "Hey, I know you may have been tired, but think about how tired that mom must be. It's not easy raising a kid, let alone taking them across town on the Max. Just think about the message you would be sending that kid by giving up your seat for him and his mom- showing that kid how to be a good citizen." In an ideal world, if we all did the right thing, that is how the other side of that conversation would have gone. Instead, I'm sure (and I only say this because I've heard, seen, and been expected to take part in it a thousand times) that the other side consisted of reassuring and commiserating statements like, "yeah, it's not your fault she chose to have kids," or, "yeah, having kids does not entitle you to someone else's seat on the bus."

Why is it that we allow people around us to behave like complete jerks? It has become socially acceptable to go along with bad behavior instead of calling it out. If someone makes a sexist joke, or uses misogynist vocabulary, the crowd is expected (and usually does) laugh it off. It takes a rare person to speak up and call out the bad language.

Some of my regrets in life are moments when I did not speak up. I remember one time when I went to a beer festival with a new friend. This friend made a mean comment about an obese woman sitting on a small fold-up chair. Instead of pointing out how mean and unacceptable that comment was, I tried to change the topic. Not only does fat-shaming upset me for personal reasons, but it is simply unacceptable and mean. I wish I had told my friend my true feelings on the matter, but instead, I simply stopped hanging out with her.

I know it's scary to take a stand and hold people accountable for their words and actions. Pretty much every day, I want to call cyclists out for violating traffic laws (guess what cyclists: you have to follow the same rules as moving vehicles) on my walk to work. Seriously: get off the sidewalk, and stop at stop signs. Instead, I mutter under my breath and hope that none of my pack gets run over (me, bf, dog). Why am I so afraid of how a cyclist would react if I called them out for riding like a complete jerk?

Part of it is that we live in a country where you never know who is carrying a gun. It's too hard to tell when you're dealing with someone who might completely lose their shit and seriously injure you, your dog, or your loved one. Confrontation is frightening. So how do we hold one another accountable?

It starts with choosing your friends wisely. You're not obligated to be friends with, or even get along with, everyone. Respect, yes. Like? No. If a friend says something that sounds selfish, respectfully tell them how their words and actions impact other people. If that friend wants to cut off the relationship because you called them out, then their friendship is not worth it- they clearly value themselves too much to be a good friend to you. I say this from experience: I have had a friendship end because I called out an extremely selfish action. Trust me, my life has been all the better for it.

TGIF: Ordinary Joy

19 June 2015

Today I am bringing you what I hope to be the first of a new series here at Tossing the Script. I've been reading Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and took great inspiration from Guidepost #4: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy. In this section, Brown talks about a series she writes on her blog called TGIF. These posts are focused on gratitude, and Brown shares what she's trusting, what she's grateful for, what inspires her, and how she practices her faith. In an effort to practice gratitude on a regular basis, and in order to hold myself accountable. today I will share my very own TGIF.

Before I do that, however, I want to share you some of my thoughts about this particular chapter in Brown's book. This particular Guidepost struck a vein with me because it rings very true for me. Brown discusses the difference between happiness (which is caused by outer circumstances) and joy (which is found within oneself). Brown says:
"Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments--often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we're too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we're so afraid of the dark that we don't dare let ourselves enjoy the light. 
A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable.
I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith."
What I took from this is that joy is found in the ordinary parts of life. Seeking the extraordinary means seeking happiness, which is all well and good, but should not be our sole mission in life. Seeking joy means being grateful for the everyday things. Joy can be found in the daily cup of coffee, the smell of freshly-shampooed hair, and in singing along to our favorite songs. Joy is accessible to each one of us as long as we take a moment to recognize and savor it.

So, without further ado, here is my inaugural TGIF:

Trusting: 
This week, I am trusting that whatever happens is for the best, and that when things don't work out, they open me up to better opportunities. I tend to get very attached to ideas and things that I want, but in the end, there are always things beyond my control. Letting go of my desire opens me up to new possibilities.
Grateful:
This week, I am grateful for my team at work. By luck or by design, I have the fortune of working with a group of sensitive, thoughtful, introverted and passionate individuals. This week we had a wellness session where we shared some common frustrations with our working environment, and it felt good to hear everyone's perspective and see how comfortable we all were with sharing our thoughts with one another. We might not always agree, but we value and respect one another's opinions and feelings, and for that, I'm grateful.
Inspired:
This week I have obviously been inspired by Brene Brown's work. I read her book Daring Greatly a couple years ago, and it is one of the few books that I can honestly say has changed the way I think. Brown's work is humanizing and real, and inspires me to be true to myself.
Faith:
This week I have practiced my faith by praying/holding people in my thoughts. I'm not one for telling people that I'm thinking of them or praying for them, as I much prefer to simply do those things. By telling someone that I wish blessings upon them, I feel it draws attention to myself, which is not what I want at all. I simply want that person to feel a moment of peace. Faith, to me, is not something we talk about doing, it's something we do. So this week I practiced my faith the best way I know how: silently, on my own.

Thank you for reading today. I hope that you feel inspired to take a moment and reflect on your own TGIF, and if you'd like, you can share them in the comments below.

Getting Out: Falls Creek Falls, or, A Tale of Two Hikes

10 June 2015

This portion of the post was written last August, but was never published.

One thing that has always helped me get to my roots, to remember who I am at my core, is time spent in nature. I can breathe more fully, relax a little, and let my mind slow down. When I am out in nature, I tend to be a bit more present to the moment. I take in my surroundings, noticing the colors, the smells, the sounds. Nature is my sanctuary.

On Sunday I went out for my second-ever solo hike. I drove for what felt like ages out in the middle of nowhere, took a turn onto a wrong forest service road, found the right forest service road, and parked in a mostly empty gravel lot. I was so far into nature that I hadn't had cell phone service for at least ten miles. Normally, such circumstances would make me a little nervous (what if I get abducted? what if Lucy and I get eaten by wild animals?), but I felt completely at home among the trees.

I set off down a dirt path along the Falls Creek trail. I soon came to a peaceful creek where Lucy dragged me down to the water so she could sniff out all of the wonderful smells. It's times like these I wish I knew what was going on in her little brain. I took in all the scenery, not believing the bright shades of green that were before me. I couldn't wait to see what came next.

Lucy and I trekked along for another mile and a half. We walked over dried up creek beds covered in mossy rocks and past many a fallen tree. I found myself imagining what sorts of fairytale creatures inhabited these woods, as I often do. I could see water sprites playing in the pools of the creek, and small trolls hiding behind fallen trees. 

Eventually the trail became a constant incline, wending around corner after corner. I began to wonder if I'd taken a wrong turn when I could hear it. It's what I came for. Falls Creek Falls.

I can be a fairly excitable person at times, and the anticipation of seeing a waterfall is one such time. I love waterfalls. I live for them. They are absolutely my favorite natural feature. One of the things I really love in life, is that feeling I get when I am walking a trail and I can feel the waterfall before I even hear it. It's like a faint drum pounding, and I feel it in my gut. Pretty soon I will hear the light pounding of the falls, and it grows louder until I am standing before something that is terrifyingly beautiful. I love that feeling.

On this hike, I relished that feeling. Which was great, because it was a while before I rounded a corner and was afforded a glimpse of the falls through the trees. I'm not exaggerating when I say it took my breath away. Was this waterfall for real? My anticipation grew as I approached the waterfall. I finally came to a rocky overlook where I could stop and stare at one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen.


Call me a nerd, but I felt like I'd stumbled into Rivendell. I could just imagine all the elves living in cliffside dwellings on the other side of the falls. I also began to ponder my love of waterfalls, something that feels so deeply rooted within me. Perhaps it is my Swiss blood, the memories of my ancestors, that makes me feel so at home with waterfalls.


This portion of the post was written today, June 2015.

This past weekend, my bf and I ventured out for one of my favorite hikes- the one I posted about above. I haven't hiked since last October, and I hadn't worked out in just about as long. Folks, I'm out of shape.

Bf doesn't care much for hiking, but I convinced him this would be an easy hike. I told him it was mostly flat, it was roughly three miles, and I would buy him a beer for every mile we completed. I also wanted him to see how much fun Lucy has in the woods.


Unfortunately, I chose a very hot day for a hike (it was around 90 degrees F). The air along the creek was noticeably cooler than in the sun, but we had a rough time most of the way to the waterfall. Oh, and did I mention I'm out of shape?

That "easy" hike proved to be challenging for this body that has a few more pounds of fluff and less muscle than the last time she hiked. Funny enough, my bf was the one who was always a few paces ahead of me when I'm normally the one speeding along. In short, my bf found this hike to be easier than he thought it would be, whereas I found it harder than I'd remembered. 


One thing that remained the same was the beauty of the waterfall itself. It was at least ten degrees cooler by the waterfall, which provided a nice respite from the heat. I was still amazed by the grandeur of the falls, and still felt lucky to have found them. Even luckier was sharing this beautiful place with someone who makes me incredibly happy.

Finding the Right Fit (GIVEAWAY)

28 May 2015

As I discussed in my last post, I am learning to show my body love and grace. One way I do this is by be active in ways that feel right for my body and my personality. Since I live about a mile from my office, I enjoy walking to work every day. Occasionally, I might go for a short jog (I'm slow, but enjoy the movement of jogging and enjoying the scenery). Now that Summer is approaching, I intend to do more hiking (my personal fave). Once in a while, I might do yoga or strength training, depending on how I feel. 

Thing is, the activities I listed are what feels right for me. They fit me. I've come to learn what doesn't fit me: sports (of any kind), cycling (my knees would kill me), and weightlifting (just no). It's good to know what doesn't fit me, so that I can focus my time doing activities that I actually enjoy. When I find the perfect fit, I am so much more inclined to be active.

One thing that is not the perfect fit for me right now is belly dance. I am taking a hiatus from dance for now, as I simply do not currently have the passion for it that I once had. I know I will return when the time is right, but for now, I'm danced out. 

At this time, I am excited to get back into the great outdoors. I can't wait to explore the forests and mountains that surround me. One thing I love about hiking is that I can bring my dog and a friend along, and turn it into a full experience rather than just a workout. Not only that, but connecting with nature helps me recharge my batteries. It is good for my soul. Therefore, hiking is the perfect fit.

Speaking of a perfect fit, I need the right bra for my physical activities. Given my recent weight fluctuation, my cups have been overflowing and I have been in dire need of new bras. I will post soon about my recent day-to-day bra shopping experience, but here I want to focus on sports bras.


I recently had the opportunity to attend a media preview of Title Nine's FitFest bra-fitting event. The timing of this invite could not have been more perfect. At the event, I met with a "bravangelist" who helped me test out some different sports bras. Now, I'm a bustier gal, so finding my size can often be a challenge, but Title Nine carries not only my size, but larger sizes as well. My braveangelist found four different styles for me to try in my size, and to narrow down my choice, I took each bra through a bounce test. There were bouncy balls and jump ropes ready for us to try out our bras.

What makes for a good fit for a sports bra? Since I am "boobalicious," I like a bra with underwires and some amount of compression. I want to know that my boobs won't smack me in the face when I go for a jog. I should be the one doing the bouncing, not my boobs. In addition, it helps to have a bra that displaces the pressure from my shoulders, and I tried a few bras that did a great job at that.

In the end, I went with the Panache Marvel, which is an awesome name for a bra. It has a molded cup with underwires that keep my breasts lifted and separated, as well as a panel along the top of the cups that keep my breasts in place (as opposed to allowing them to bounce up). This bra fit me perfectly, and it held up well against the bouncy ball test.

Have you found your perfect fit in terms of activity? What do you look for in a sports bra? If you'd like to test out some bras and find your perfect fit, I highly recommend the Title Nine FitFest.  Here are the details for attending the FitFest in Oregon:

WHEN/WHERE:


Alternately, you can enter my very first giveaway! See details below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post. Title Nine provided me with the bra and goodies, and is providing the fitting and bra for the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Loving My Body Through the Changes

26 May 2015

In the 7 or so months during which I took a break from my blog, my body experienced a somewhat significant change. Specifically, I've put on a little bit of weight. This is the point where I get a little TMI for some, but I intend to talk about it here because I think it is a discussion that should be normalized. I'm talking about birth control, its effects on the body, and how I have learned to appreciate the changes it has brought to my body.

To give a little background, I went on the pill about six years ago in order to control the intense cramps and pelvic pain that I experienced every month leading up to my period. I had gotten to the point where I was better off staying home from work for the day when my cramps were at their worst. I would take 800mg of ibuprofen and try to get through the day as best I could. As if that weren't enough, I had also begun to experience pelvic pain in the week prior to the cramping. This pain meant that any time my bladder was even slightly full, I had to rush to the bathroom because of the intense pressure. My boss even yelled at me for going to the bathroom too often, but that boss was not a very nice person. In the end, I took my troubles to the gynecologist and she put me on the pill.

For five years, I took the pill every day to keep everything in check. I skipped the period week in each pack so that I was on the pill continuously- having a period still caused me problems. One of the unexpected benefits of being on the pill was that my weight went down, and stayed down. I was at my thinnest and felt pretty good about it. It felt good (and weird) to be called skinny. I had never been skinny before, but I became accustomed to it.

Eventually, I began to identify myself as thin. This means that I became much more fearful of gaining weight. Whereas growing up and in my early twenties I identified as fat, my late twenties and early thirties were closely tied to being thin. Therefore, when my pelvic pain began to resurface despite being on the pill, I was afraid of trying an alternative form of birth control for fear of gaining weight.

In the end, I chose to make a change because I knew my body needed it. I switched to the implant, which is great because it means no more remembering to buy and take pills. But the change in birth control lead to a few more changes in my body. Not only do I have to deal with periods again, but I have gained some weight. 

Dealing with this change has not been easy, but I'm learning to choose a more positive perspective. Therefore, instead of referring to my body as having gained weight, I am saying that my body filled out. My breasts are fuller, and my hips are more round. I am softer. I look more womanly, in my opinion.

This change in my body has caused me to think a lot about why my identity and my body are so entwined. Looking back, when I made the gradual change from being obese to being skinny, I had a hard time disassociating myself from what I call "fat girl thoughts." Despite having lost so much weight, I still felt like an elephant whenever I would walk down an airplane aisle. I was so used to taking up a lot of space that I never adjusted my mindset. It wasn't just the space I took up, either. I still compared myself to girls who were skinnier than me, never quite feeling that I was truly thin. But still, after several years of being thin, I eventually began to cling to my new thin identity. I was terrified at the thought of gaining weight.

Part of my fear of gaining weight was because I associated weight gain with failure. I was afraid of how other people would view me- that because I could not maintain my weight, I would be viewed as "less than." I also feared disappointment in myself, for having worked so hard to lose the weight before, only to gain some of it back. It doesn't help that society rewards weight loss and demonizes weight gain. I received a lot of positive reinforcement for my weight loss and for simply being skinny, but even putting on five pounds, I've rarely been told I look good, or, god forbid, even healthier (which I personally think I do).

Ultimately, I choose to embrace the changes that my body is currently experiencing. I am not my body. I am a soul inhabiting a body, and that body will go through countless changes throughout its lifetime. My soul is what matters, and my soul is beautiful. This body of mine is beautiful in its own right, so I will try to show it a bit more grace. Instead of focusing on what I dislike about the weight gain (no longer being able to fit into my favorite clothes), I will focus on the beauty of the change. My breasts have filled out again and my hips are rounder. The softness of my body reflects the softness of my soul (I know that sounds cheesy, but its true). My sensitive nature has manifested itself in this body, and I am absolutely lucky to being living this life in this body.

What I wish to leave my readers with is this: love your body. Treat it well and show it some grace. Fat or thin, you are not your body. Your body is simply a vessel for your soul. I know that it is difficult at times to embrace the body you have, but when you do, you will feel that much more alive.
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