Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I Learned In 2014 (Abridged)

That I love my life so much it hurts.

 I guess I just feel that whether my glass is brimming with Iocane Powder or an Elixir of Life, at least I have a glass with liquid enough to make a toast with.

And on that note, I'd like to make a toast.

Here's to the freedom of choice.
And for the ability to choose happiness even when it is hard to.
And if all else fails, at least I have the world's best friends and family to pour me a glass of warm milk so I can try again.


Monday, December 29, 2014

10-ish Reasons Why I Know My Mom is My Mom.

1. She is the BEST story teller. I'm pretty sure if her life were a movie it would look a lot like Big Fish. And we all know how that one ended.


2. Because I get text messages like this:

 And I know she really means, "We are still going to Skype at 6pm your time right?"

3. Because she sent me this picture on Christmas Eve:

4. And then this one the day after Christmas.

Her vote of confidence in regards to my love life is truly inspiring.

5. Because she sends me 6 Billion posts on Facebook everyday. 

I gripe about it but without her, well, this would be my Notification Page:

Thanks mom!

6. We are both obsessed with our dogs. For obvious reasons.

(My mom and her dog Joshua)

(Ruthie June and Sidekick)

(now multiply these pictures by 1.78 billion and you might come close to the number of pictures we have of our dogs.)

7. Because watching Lord of the Rings is ALWAYS a great idea.

8. Family is Everything. 
And Socks. 

Yes, definitely socks. 

Fuzzy Socks. 
A lot of them. 
Socks forever.

9. Because Road Trips, traveling and trying out local cafe's and coffee shops is just our THING. 

10. I get "Are You Dead?" Emails in my inbox every other day. Even after I have just "liked" all of the 6 Billion posts she sent me on Facebook. 

Nope. I'm not dead yet, Momma. But thanks for caring! 

Love you Mom!! You are the best! :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Know, I No.

Ever seen that movie "Yes Man?" 
Well, lately I've been living in a similar manner, except, if my life were a book, they might just call this chapter,"No, Really." 

So here it is. 
How I learned to say,"no" and not feel guilty about it.
And instead, learned how to say,"yes" to a life all my own.

It may seem silly, writing a blog post on such a simple thing as, "no" but actually, saying no can be really hard. For many, many reasons. But I also know that it can be liberating. 

It's so funny what I can say,"no" too. I can say,"no" to alcohol, weed, drugs, drama etc. So easily. I never care what people think about me when I decline those things. If they think I'm lame because I don't drink etc. simply because I don't want to, then that's their issue. 

But it is so silly to think of all the things I could almost never say, "no" to. Dates, events, too many work hours, lower wages than I could have gotten, trying to be there for everyone all the time, giving and giving and giving. And never taking the time to give back to myself.

I used to think that my happiness was somehow linked entirely with the happiness of those I loved. 
So I did what I could to help "make" them happy. If you were to have called me a "people pleaser", to an extent, you would have been right. But pleasing people was not about acceptance or anything like that for me. It was about my fear that somehow I might inadvertently cause someone pain and sorrow.

So then I started a pattern of frantically trying to live life and be everywhere and see everyone and give to anyone that asked for help. I would do that for a few weeks and then I would spend three weeks in isolation just binge watching 90210 (Lord, help me.) and reading book after book just to escape. Ignoring text messages, phone calls, emails, school work, class even my very best friends and closest family members. Because I would always get to the point where I just COULDN'T.  No matter what it was.  

Then I would start everything all over again.

I never thought my interactions with people were fake but then I realized that if I kept giving when I had nothing left then it was like I was just printing out paper money without anything in my treasury to back it up. So it was valueless. And eventually it would lead to collapse.
 The Great Depression, anyone?  

So what happens when your economy collapses? Rebuild to make things stronger and to fix old flaws that went unnoticed until then. Try new things. Take it slow. Because it takes time.

I eventually started to be brave. 
Saying,"no" in a world where offense is taken easily, opportunities are lost almost as quickly as they are presented and when it seems like if you don't say, "yes" you'll lose everything, takes courage.

I realized I didn't owe anyone anything. But that still didn't stop me from wanting to give back to them. And that is okay. Actually, giving "simply because" has been more fulfilling than any other motive for giving that I have experienced. 

I'm no Mother Theresa. 
I'm just someone who realized I needed to love and give to myself and others in equal measure in order to live a balanced life. It's not about forgetting about everyone. It isn't about becoming unfeeling and selfish. It's about loving yourself AND others. Because if you don't love yourself how in the world can you even begin to TRULY love others?

I can't tell you when it happened but all of a sudden my life seemed entirely my own. Full of opportunities to share it with others, love more fully and not settle. No more giving to people who only tear me down. No more asking anyone for permission to make my own choices. 

I decided to stop running away. 

And I started saying,"yes" to the things that make me truly, truly happy.

Night walks with my closest friends, going to farmers markets, I quit my terrible job to go back to school. I went to Thailand for a few months. I started enjoying, fully, my morning cup of Crio Bru. I started reading books I wanted to read and started being okay with NOT finishing books that I just didn't like.(Yeah, that's right. I now have an "Abandoned Books" bookshelf on my Goodreads account.)

One of my worst fears is becoming an island. And I used to think that, "no" was water in a moat surrounding me. That, "no" somehow separated me from everything.

Now I know that a well-placed,"no" is a bridge to somewhere else.

 Somewhere I want to be.  A place with it's own set of problems and adventures. A place where there are still battles, but ones  I don't mind fighting because they are for things I believe in.
Accompanied by people I want to be with. Doing things that make me happy. 
A well-placed,"no" can be a fortress against some pretty bad stuff. That,"no" doesn't have to be a road-block.

That a well-placed,"no" can actually offer more opportunity than a half-hearted, counterfeit,"yes."

I'm not Queen of, "No Land." I still say, "yes" a lot. 

Because a lot of the time,"No" can help you find something you want to say, "Yes" too.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Where the Ponies Come to Drink*

My parents have taught me many things. However, the most important lesson I have learned from them is how to take a closer look around me and at life in order to see the things I need to learn and teach myself rather than standing around hoping someone will tell me everything. 

How did they do it? Horses.

The first horse I rode was my mom's old horse, Magic.

 He was an ex-race horse and a tall one at that. I saw a picture of my first ride once. My mom was holding me all swaddled up in a blanket because I learned to ride before I learned to walk. Subsequently, I have ridden and taken care of horses my entire life.   All I know is that I like to go bareback riding in the hills and ride fast, crazy horses. 
( I got that from my momma. Thanks mom! ;) ) 

Now what does this have to do with anything?

Well, a few weeks ago I was thinking about how I saw so many families whose parents counseled them by sitting down and talking to them, listening to their children and offering help and advice whenever they could. Now, my mom and I talk all the time about life and she tells me hilarious stories of her rebellious youth. But I almost started to feel sad that my dad never really sat me down like that and asked me what was going on in my life (in all honesty he probably never had to since I'm pretty forthcoming with that sort of thing, unprompted. I like to vent to my dad. Thanks Dad! :) ) 

But then I took a spontaneous road trip to Oklahoma and while I was there I was able to relax and run around with my dog in beautiful meadows (My blog's background is a picture I took while I was there) and I even did an entire 30 minute HIIT exercise sequence on the side of the road and not one car drove by. Oh, country roads! 

But also while I was there my parents discovered that the person in Michigan, who they had paid to board, feed and take care of our horses while we were in Thailand, had actually been starving them and using the hay we bought for our horses to feed his instead. 

So they immediately, upon realizing what was going on, went and got our horses and brought them down to Oklahoma to my dad's best friend Debra's ranch. Our horses were just skeletal. Each had lost at least 200 pounds each. Our oldest horse Sheena, age 39, looked like she would not have lasted another 2 weeks. All hip bones and rib cage. But the worst part is, you can't just let a starved horse out into a meadow to eat all they want until they get fat again no matter how much you may want to. If you do that they will most likely founder (debilitating foot condition also known as laminitis due to high protein intake over a short period of time) and in some cases die from it. So the re-feeding process, for the first few weeks, is still a scary time. You have to start slowly and work your way up to feeding them normal amounts etc.

Just for a visual:

Legs and hooves in good condition:

Severe Laminitis or Founder:

(not our horses)

I would post pictures of our horses but it's too painful to see them so skinny, so I won't. 

Our horses have been amazing companions and friends to us and had never gone hungry a day in their life. My dad always says, "Fat is the best color on a horse."  So to see them, all of their beautiful muscles and strength, atrophied due to someone else's cruelty was just awful. (I was and still am so entirely confused at how someone could become so detached and heartless enough to starve innocent, mind animals. )
But the next morning I went out early in the morning and brushed each one of them and combed ( I had to cut some knots out) all the knots out of their hair and pet them and just remembered how much I love the smell of them. 
But even after that I was still agitated because I could not get over how much I disliked the person who did this to them. So, around dusk, when everything was golden, I walked to the pond Debra had out in her field and just tried to think. 

And I finally figured it out.
My dad was right when he told me a few years earlier that, "Horses have made you who you are." He didn't need to sit me down and talk to me about life lessons. He taught and counseled me through horses.

So here come the lessons

Lesson #1: 
Don't spend time on hating people. Spend it on healing, loving, laughing and playing in meadows.

Lesson #2: 
Don't walk through dandelion filled meadows without trying to find a clear path so you won't unwittingly step on an Incredibly Deadly Viper (Series of Unfortunate Events anyone? No? okay.).

Lesson #3
If you want to catch 8 horses at once, just catch and halter a female horse and walk her to the barn and all the male horses will come running after you. No halters required.  Boys will be boys, I guess.

Lesson #4
Seeing my starved horses reminded me that people are the same in a lot of ways in that respect. We all go through things in life that deplete us in some way. Whether we are still searching for our true love, or just trying to get through medical school we all have things missing in our lives. Some might become starved for innocent physical touch. Like my horses were. Others may be starved for words of affirmation. The simple, " You are doing an amazing job, Thanks!" Or those who just want someone to spend a little quality time with them without distractions. But sometimes we might try to gorge ourselves in the meadow before we are ready and we end up foundering because things don't work out in the end. 
The process for healing a starving horse and a starving person is the same. Slowly reefed. So whether you are trying to help a friend heal or you are trying to heal yourself, just take your time. It'll end up better that way in the long run. For healthy long term healing, slow is the way to go. Someday you'll find your Oklahoma meadow and you'll hopefully be prepared and fed enough to go out and graze in it to your hearts content.

Lesson #5 
What I learned while brushing my horses. Different amounts of grime need different brushes. Just a light dust on them? Soft brush will do the trick. Mud? Coarse brush and patience. Impossible knots in their mane and tail due to prolonged unkemptness? Scissors.

 Sometimes we just have to brush things off  that happen to us and we can get over them pretty quickly.

 Sometimes things that have happened to us take more time, effort and a coarse brush to get the grime off of our hearts.

And sometimes we just have to cut addictions and other horrible things out of our lives completely in order to heal.

I can't tell you all the lessons I've learned from horses because it's a lifetimes worth of study and this blog post is alread pretty long but I've shared with you a few of them. However, there is one last lesson that horses, and my parents have taught me.

"The Best in Show" Lesson:
Always have a heart that is soft as silk. A heart that is open more often than Denny's. Have eyes that see with a vision beyond the surface. To speak softly but to be firm when needed. Have courage to stand your ground. That you can't control others, so prepare accordingly. Stay on the path when you can but sometimes you might have to trail blaze. Don't take yourself too seriously. Be Loyal, have pure intentions, be strong, play hard, work hard, hang on and just enjoy the ride.

****"Where the Ponies Come to Drink" Henry Herbert Knibbs****
(One of my dad and my favorite poem/songs)

Friday, June 6, 2014

There and Back Again.

Well, I am back from Thailand! 

Firstly, I'm going to digress from the main topic of this blog post because I need to share with you two things that made me laugh really really hard while I was people watching on the plane ride back. 

I always struggle with the little TV remote on any international flight. 

And apparently so did the guy two seats in front of me in the next isle. It was hilarious because I could totally relate to his plight. 

Also, the lady in the isle next to me was engrossed in the movie she was watching so she was eating without looking and she dropped a chip and it landed in her scarf. She proceeded to spend the next thirty seconds trying in vain to find the lost chip while still watching her movie. In short, it looked like this. 

Also,while I was on the plane I wrote a list of a few things that I missed from America while I was in Thailand and a few things I would miss from Thailand while in America.
 I also wrote a list of the things I learned about myself and people while there. So here it goes :)


Because most of the time I was all like,

Vegan protein food and stuff like that. 
Jojoba oil. 
Random weird “i’m-a-health-nut-foodie” obscure food items. 
Long distance running (4 words. Stray Dogs and mosquitos.)  
My car.
 My friends.
 Wow, I somehow thought this list would be longer.  


My parents.
 My mom’s dog and my cats. 
The smiling people and their helpfulness and gentleness. 
Learning something new about a foreign place everyday, all day.
 Fresh fruit anywhere, anytime for less than a dollar. 
Not having a phone? 
At least because I never really looked at it unless I needed to use a wireless app or something. But I didn’t hold it in my hand when I was out and about. It stayed in my backpack and I just watched, enjoyed and, much to my mother's dismay, I didn’t charge my other little dinky phone very often so I didn’t really have that one either. Whoops
I love that they bow and say thank you. Or just sort of curtsey bow if we bumped into each other on accident. (So, if you see me walking around saying random Thai words, bowing, curtseying…that’s why.) And I don’t think I want to stop doing that. At least the curtsey part (It’s more like a head lowering little dip thing. It's hard to explain?)
The way people in Thailand seem to be incredibly service oriented and go out of their way to help someone.
That, sisters, best friends, daughters and mom's hold hands with each other more often.
I thought that was nice :)

The Things I Learned While in Thailand:

Compression socks are no joke. I love them. (The first time I flew to Thailand without them I’m pretty sure my ankles swelled so much I couldn’t see my ankle bones. Yikes. But I suppose sitting in the window seat of an airplane for 20 hours can do that to you. 
Appreciate easy access to spinach because it isn't readily available everywhere. Culture shock and a HALF.
I asked the Barista at one of the coffee shops I frequented how to make traditional Matcha green tea because I didn't know it didn't have to be made like a latte.
They also make coffee differently. Cool.
Simplicity and balance and living in the present is way more satisfying than pining over the future. 
That I am a full blown foodie. Albeit a health nutty foodie. 
Now this one I knew, but I still think it deserves to be mentioned. Coffee shops are one of my favorite places to be in the world. Nuff said.
That I still love Mr. Rogers.

I love people so much. I love finding the beautiful in all the imperfections of life. 
That it's not only okay for others to be imperfect but it is also okay if I am too. 
To recognize my worth and beauty as an imperfect person.
That the world is large but that doesn't mean anyone is insignificant. Ever. Anyone and everyone who lives and has lived is significant and their worlds matter.
That the beauty standards in Thailand are very similar and as unattainable as America's standards of beauty.
But despite that, I felt like people in Thailand more readily told each other they were beautiful.
To relax. 
My parents stories are out of this world. 
That you can waste time anywhere in the world. I still managed to binge watch various TV shows and watch YouTube videos more than I care to admit. That has to change.
That I will never fit into a Thai size small. But neither will my 3 year old nephew. a Thai small is SMALL. 
That I fit in with the slower moving pace of the Thai people.
That I love to teach.  I love people and being able to get to know them so I can teach them in the ways they learn best makes me so happy. Plus, I learn so much from them too. I enjoy it when they feel I am approachable enough to ask questions and know I won’t judge them etc. 
That I will forever love traveling.
I made a lot of friends from all over the world and it was so awesome to be able to talk to them about their country, culture,religion,customs etc.
That even though it was incredibly hot, a few of my friends and I planted trees and flowers for my mom and it was ridiculously fun!
(Katie, me, Sarj, Natcha, Q) :)

That, so far, all the places I’ve been in the world, early mornings are always very quiet. 
Two words. Graduation Goggles. I was beyond excited to come home 10 days before I left but as the days passed I just kept seeing so many beautiful things in Thailand and felt pretty sad to see my adventure ending.

There is a slight difference between being a quitter and being a starter. I start a lot of things. I like the anticipation of new things and the "Great Perhaps" but I need to stop starting so much and continue on with the things I love most. I need to prioritize and focus. I have started so many things that I have become pretty average at a lot of things instead of really good at one or two things. I'm a bit sad about that. I have learned the value of focus and diligence over the past few months. 

Final Words About My Trip to Thailand:

To stop asking permission to live and go where I want and do what I want.
I don't mean, disregarding others feeling etc. I will always be sensitive to the feelings of others and how my actions may affect them. That is just who I am. But as long as my intentions are good, honest, pure I will do what I want. I talked about this in more detail in this blog post :) 
I just mean, I am going to live MY life. Not the life I think I need to live because society, or anyone else says I need to live a certain way. 

To let go. This was huge for me. I hold so many things close to my heart and care too much sometimes. However, I realized some of the things I was struggling to hold on to were just too cumbersome. So I let go of them. And I feel amazing. 

 I've been pretty nomadic over the past few years but now I think I am ready to stay in one place for a while. 
To enjoy the present because it is okay to have goals and dreams for the future but not to let them suck the color and vibrance out of my Today. Because I’ve let it do that too often in my life. What I know now is that I’m always going to miss something, somewhere. I can’t let the fear that I am missing out on things in other places ruin my life. I have to learn and practice being at peace with the feeling of missing things, missing out on things, and enjoy my present. I can’t be everywhere. And I need to keep telling myself that that is okay. I can’t apparate. But I am starting to be okay with that. Hey, would you look at that.There I go “starting" again.;)