Fear of Judgment

31 August 2015
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. 
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