I know I’m too much DEAL WITH IT

I’ve never found a historical figure more like myself than Alexander Hamilton. What I lack in his obsessive stamina I match in my overt too much-ness. See, Hamilton came to America with a dream and he worked hard to achieve it. Along the way, he overwhelmed people with words and honesty and was constantly fighting uphill battles to make his new nation great. His words, especially when written, were his tools.

He made mistakes and sometimes his honesty got him into trouble. That didn’t stop him from continually working and publishing. Ask anyone around him and they’d probably tell you he was a little too much. Except etiquette was the obsession back then so there would some gentlemanly way to express it, like ‘Hamilton always has ideas and suggestions for every situation, even when not directly involved.’

Like Hamilton, I’m too much.

I have strong opinions about everything. Today I started a tirade against autographs and why they’re pointless. I can feel when one starts rising within me. An unknowing victim cordially chats with me about any random subject and suddenly I’m triggered. My demeanor changes and my voice becomes strangely forceful and somehow I get a little louder. It’s never against them or what they think because fortunately my manners work occasionally. I only care about nonsense, like the travesty of wearing jeans to the theater and why ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ is a really demeaning song.

At least in a professional setting, they’re supported by my experience and knowledge. Still it happens. We’re discussing something related to branding or marketing and then the strong opinion starts building. Usually it’s useful and drives my work ethic, but sometimes it just means I talk a lot during a meeting.

I’ve often claimed to be a very dichotomous person. I am either in full makeup or I look like I just rolled out of bed. I will work hard nonstop or I will spend hours on my couch rewatching The Office. I either don’t care at all or I care so much everyone else begins to hate me.

I’m really familiar with that last one.

One of the hallmarks of my personality is my intensity. I have zero bedside manner and tend to sound like a jerk when in reality I just don’t know how to tone myself down. I want to help where I can and often I go into overdrive and people no longer want to work with me. In college, I started wearing bows every day to appear less harsh, but it probably just made me look crazier.

People probably wish I would remain lethargic so the passionate beast wouldn’t be unleashed to annoy everyone. I just don’t know how to care less.

I want things to be the best that they can be, and sure you can argue that it’s just my perception of ‘best,’ but whatever. When I dedicate myself to a project, I want everyone to feel as strongly as I do. This is why working at Girl Scouts is such a good fit for me – everyone care a lot, just like me.

I’ve never understood why people don’t care or try. They don’t implement new rules or pay attention when something is being changed. They just keep going with how they’ve always done things because to them, it doesn’t matter. I DON’T GET IT. Whatever.

After more than 28 years of being this way, because yes I’m sure even as a baby I was like this, I’ve learned a few tricks. Primarily it’s keep the raging beast within. Get to know people and let them think you’re quiet and then SHABAM douse them in insanity when you can trust them.

Jk. Kind of.

It’s not that I pretend to be someone I’m not, it’s just I hold a lot of opinions to myself and just kind of nod along. When I used to meet people, they either liked me or they didn’t. Now I’ve mastered to art of tricking them into thinking I’m likable. Once a real relationship is established, I’m fully Chelsea, lock and loaded with opinions I will most definitely express. So if you know me IRL and I’m a spaz around you, take it as a compliment.

Recently, though, I’ve moved back toward my roots of ‘this is me’ (sung to the tune of The Greatest Showman classic). I don’t want my behavior to act as an apology for who I am so I don’t accidentally annoy someone. Yes I know I can be more tactful and quiet, but in general I like who I am. I like that I care so deeply about everything. I like that I’m intense. I understand that not everyone will jive with by vibe and that’s a-okay. God made me to be this passionate so why would I dare deny Him the joy of seeing me express it?

Right now it’s got me in a tough situation. I’m in a new place with new people and we hardly know each other, but I’m in full-Hamilton mode. Like dropping a pamphlet denouncing John Adams deep. I feel like I’m in this place for a reason, with the right experience and skills to make a difference. The more I push, the more I feel I’m the only one. Except now instead of worrying that they won’t like me, I’m wondering if this is worth my time.

I don’t say that to be uppity like my time is so precious (see previous comment about rewatching The Office). Moving against the popular current alone is exhausting and frustrating and frankly, it makes everyone hate me. Contrary to what my personality may say, I don’t want to be disliked. Sometimes it’s uncontrollable, but sometimes it’s the result of me trying to make waves nobody asked for.

The remedy for this situation is a polite confrontation where everything is laid on a table and a decision is made. But conflict isn’t my forte. I’m the girl who will ignore our texts if we’re fighting because I don’t want to deal with it. Being an adult is hard.

Tonight an email became the straw that broke the horse’s back. Is that the right phrase? Either way, something finally snapped within me and I realized I can’t avoid this conversation any longer. I won’t make myself less or belittle my intensity, but I will respect the outcome.

It just means I might have time to obsess and lose my mind over something else. Most likely The Office.

Insecurity

I didn’t miss last week’s email. I actually had three pieces lined up, including a riveting review of Netflix’s most recent foray into cheesy Christmas movies. Everything was ready to send, I just needed to add in the link for the devotional when it published Sunday.

Before I could finish it and hit send, insecurity snuck in.

Writing about myself isn’t anything new, but my typical style was be so compelled to spew my feelings I typed everything out and shared without a second thought. Because I would write and share so infrequently, I never worried about people getting sick of me. But now I’ve been doing this for two months and (if you’ve subscribed to my emails) you’ve received nine emails full of me and my never-ending emotions.

I began to wonder if it was sustainable, if I was sustainable. It’s not like I don’t have more to say; I have lists of essays to write and I’m constantly processing emotions that need to be discussed. What happens when I have more to say and no one wants to listen anymore? How often can I talk about my anxiety, my dad, and my faith before you tire of my opinion?

Before I continue, I’m not writing this so my three faithful readers send me encouragement to keep up the good fight. I know I have people who believe in me and that’s powerful.

Writing like I do also makes me feel like a hypocrite. One week I write about weight and finding peace in the struggle and the next week I’m crying on my living room floor because I can’t lose weight. I detail my financial plans and realizations only to fall back into credit card trouble. I tell people they’re loved only to feel worthless the next day.

I know that this makes me human, but it’s hard to bare and share your soul when you want to keep readers. If I truly was honest each week, you’d be in the exhaustive struggle I face between my two sides: the one who wakes up every day determined to make this the best day of her life and the one who doesn’t want to get off the couch. It’s a rollercoaster I want people to avoid because selfishly I know eventually people would get tired of what I had to say.

When I try to vary my writing, it feels forced and I second guess myself. This is because I’m not really a trained writer and it shows. I don’t have a plan, so I rely on my emotions to feed me with quality content. Frequently they let me down.

In the past, writing in the heat of the moment and throwing it on Facebook made it easy. I wasn’t sending it to anyone in particular so any feedback was good. Now, I’m reaching a group of people who want to hear from me (or at least support me because they’re kind). I don’t want to write just to send an email every week, but I also don’t want to hide behind that excuse.

For the past week, I’ve gone over what I wanted to say in this post in my head repeatedly and clearly I didn’t come up with a cohesive way to hash everything out. What I know is I want to write and I want my writing to reach people. Not reaching as in a large number, but creating a meaningful experience.

Most importantly, I believe in my own writing. God gave me a gift and for a long time I’ve felt a need to share. I don’t have all the answers, but I know there’s a reason I do this and I want to keep pursuing this path. But right now I need to take a break.

One of my goals for December is to take away the things the add stress so I can enjoy the Christmas season. My fast for the month is no lists or diets, so it’s already going to be a doozy. Instead of worrying about having to send an email and what to write, I’m going to chill and pray about where this is going. I might actually make a plan. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2019.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy New Year!

 

 

A conversation about weight

One of the hallmarks of my personality is how honest I am. Asking how I’m doing is a dangerous question because it’s unlikely you’ll get a ‘fine’ or ‘good.’ I’m prone to blurt out deep emotional issues related to my father or anxiety at any point. When people begin a conversation with me with “I don’t mean to pry, but,” I’m instantly overjoyed because I might have the opportunity to spew some of my honesty. There are few topics I won’t freely discuss with little to no prompting.

Except my weight.

It’s something I purposely avoid discussing in length on my blog. Yes, in real life, I talk to my friends and family about my struggles, but I’ve never felt the desire to bring that conversation to this platform. Mainly because I understand how much of an insecurity it is for many people and I don’t want to do a poor me post about being chubby.

I understand that there’s nothing inherently wrong about my current size. My body works well and I don’t have a lot of complaints. Despite not taking great care of it, my body has yet to seriously disappoint me. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s always been okay. And then recently by body started to betray me.

Earlier this year, I started taking Lexapro for my anxiety. One of the potential side effects was weight gain, but I wasn’t overly concerned at first. In July, I left my very active position at Sephora to move to a full-time desk job, creating the perfect storm to mess with my body.

It seemed like maybe I was gaining a little more weight, but I wasn’t surprised considering being less active and the medicine. I assumed I would stay within my normal fluctuations. Then, after I decided to stop taking my medicine, I went to the doctor and realized something startling: I’d gained more than 10 pounds in a month and was at my highest weight.

Ten pounds doesn’t seem like a lot when you space it out over a year, but when it’s more than two pounds a week, something snaps. I could no longer deny what I called a minor weight gain was escalating into something more damaging.

Since I was a teenager and these things seemed to matter, I’ve gone back and forth between overly obsessed with getting thin and striving to accept my body as it was. Remember, at no point was my weight hurting me in any way; I just wasn’t skinny by society’s standards.

The last 10 years have been the worst, especially since starting college. It was then I became more aware of my weight and started counting calories. In my final semester, I was eating 1200 calories a day and exercising for an hour every day on top of that. I was at my lowest weight in conscious memory, yet I don’t remember feeling good about my body. It was an obsession I couldn’t maintain and thankfully I graduated before it got worst.

Logically I can tell myself that I’m a fairly normal size. I understand there really isn’t anything wrong with what I look like, except it isn’t how everyone else looks on TV and the movies. When I picture good things happening in my life, like meeting someone or getting married, I’m always thin. This pudgy body feels like Baby Fat Chelsea and once I shed it, I’ll be a real adult.

I wish I could say that’s an exaggeration, but it’s the hard truth of my mental process. Being mildly overweight feels like a waiting period until my real life can begin.

Even when I’m not counting my food or workouts because I want to be at peace with myself, the mental images don’t change. So eventually I decide to start caring again for a few months and the cycle goes on and on.

When I look in the mirror now, I see a body I don’t recognize. My weight gain is noticeable enough that none of my clothes really fit like they used to and everything is a little bit more uncomfortable. I hate getting dressed because it’s a constant reminder of what’s going on with my body.

Saying that, I don’t think I’m so much bigger that everyone in the world will whisper about the weight I put on and thank God I’m not on social media where almost without thinking, we comment on someone’s weight gain.

Side note, but let’s stop doing that. I’m just as guilty. My first instinct is to notice that someone has gained weight and frequently I want to talk about it with someone. Do I want people doing that about me? Absolutely not, which means I owe them the same consideration. Anyway.

This weight gain scares me because it feels like the beginning of a bad road. It’s just a fact that staying thin and losing weight is harder as you get older, and before 30 I’ve started my decline. Before a few pounds felt like no big deal, but now it’s the realization that if I don’t try harder, I’ll keep gaining.

It’s not like I have illusions of grandeur in the form of abs. I’ve heard how you have to eat to get those and no thank you. I just want to get into positive rhythms so for the moment I get back down into a normal weight for myself and then stay healthy. I need to think about my groceries more and make sure I have time to go to the gym at least a few days a week. I live close enough to work that I can bike or walk and I want to take advantage of that when possible.

What I refuse to do is a fad diet that guarantees fast results. I have friends who are keto or whatever and they look spectacular, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my days reading ingredients to make sure I’m staying on my plan. Counting calories and trying to balance my daily percentage of protein is good enough for me.

I know if I cut sugar or carbs life would be amazing for my hips, but do I want to commit to a life with donuts, bagels, pasta, sandwiches, cake, brownies, and everything else that I love? This is probably one of my problems, but that’s okay. God gave humans the ability to develop really delicious food and I want to embrace it and consume it.

My lifestyle needs to change, but in the old fashioned way where you’re active and you practice portion control. Discipline is something I’ve gotten better at with age, and now it’s time to put those skills to use when it comes to my body.

At this point, I’m optimistic, because I’m more at peace with who I am. Before I had no love for myself, which meant trying to get thin was an act of self-hatred instead of self-love. I value myself for the weirdo I am, and I want to value my body as well.

Now, that doesn’t mean I think horrible thoughts about myself every time I look in the mirror. If I truly love myself, I have to love this body too, even if I’m trying to make it better. When I start thinking about how large something appears, I turn the negativity into thankfulness and praise God for a body that works.

I don’t know where you are, but I want you to know you are perfect just as you are. Your journey is your own and more important than anything else is your ability to love yourself, body and soul. Don’t make changes because you feel the pressure to be different or smaller. Let every bit of self-improvement come from your desire to change your life.

We can do this.

ARE GHOSTS REAL?

I’m going to start this post by saying I’m at a spiritual crossroads after reading through the Gospels. All my life, I’ve denied the existence of ghosts and assumed people were making it up in their heads. Even when I’ve heard personal accounts, I still think you only notice such things if you’re looking. AND I NEVER LOOK.

Then I stumbled upon this passage in Luke:

“Why are you frightened,” [Jesus] asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” Luke 24:38-39

It’s not just the NLT that uses the word ghost, in case you’re assuming it’s a modern interpretation. That imagery spreads across multiple versions, and the ESV uses the word Spirit.

When talking to my mom about this, she pointed out ghosts and spirits must be real because of the Holy Ghost/Spirt. Then she made a joke about the Holy Spirit wearing a sheet at Halloween and it felt extremely blasphemous, but whatever.

All joking aside, this really intrigued me. Was Jesus acknowledging the existence of ghosts or simply responding to their internal fears? On one hand, it seems obvious that He knew they thought He was a ghost. On the other hand, He goes on to explain how they don’t have flesh and blood like He does.

IS HE SIMPLY RESPONDING TO THEIR ASSUMPTIONS OF GHOSTS OR TREATING THEM LIKE THEY’RE A REAL THING?

Naturally my next step was doing some hard research via Google. I asked ‘does the Bible support ghosts,’ and learned some valuable information.

First Relevant pointed out some interesting scriptures and studies and essentially claimed that the Christian view is spirits exist, but they aren’t from God and they aren’t souls who haven’t passed on yet. God cares about us too much to allow us to wonder and scripture supports immediately going to Heaven or Hell. Another source, Bibleinfo.com, presented a similar standpoint although with less information on opposing viewpoints.

So where does that leave me and my opinions. After five minutes of research, I’ve decided I do believe in ghosts because they are something talked about in the Bible, although they aren’t ghosts as portrayed today. These are evil spirits that may look like someone we know, but it’s a trick and communicating with them is a bad idea.

I’m going to continue my life not assuming I’ve encountered the paranormal and if something does happen, I’ll call on the Holy Spirit to help me deal with it. Problem solved.

Be thankful, not sorry

I decided I would fast something monthly in 2018, mainly because I’m bad at choosing things to give up. I wanted a plan so each month I knew in advance what was happening instead of going back and forth and ultimately not fasting at all. Which is what I usually do. After doing some Internet searching, this is the list I created:

  • January: No social media
  • February: No Netflix
  • March: No necessary opinions
  • April: No negativity
  • May: No idle snacking or PTO
  • June Fast: Only Christian books and music
  • July: No sleeping in
  • August: No YouTube
  • September: No complaining
  • October: No curiosity (be okay with not knowing everything)
  • November: No music in the car
  • December: No diets or lists

Being in the penultimate month of the year, I’m actually excited to say I think I’ve done fairly well. Most months, with the exception of June and July, I managed to stick to my fast without issue and found it was much easier than I anticipated.

Then I realized it was November and time for no music in the car.

My original thinking for this was it’s November, so I’ll spend my time in the car praying and thanking God. And then last week I almost fell asleep while driving home from an event and remembered I need to be stimulated while driving or else I will fall asleep. If I had super powers, I’m sure my kryptonite would be putting me in a car and you just start driving. I sleep in cars. It’s kind of my thing.

More than the safety issue, it didn’t feel right. Partially because it sounds a little miserable (sorry God) and partially because I made this list a year ago and things change. I wanted to do something that was more impactful for my life now. So I decided I would spend this month saying thank you.

It’s not like I don’t already say thank you a lot. I’m a very well-mannered human bean. My issue is, like most women, I apologize for everything, and someday I fear I will apologize my existence away.

Sometimes you need to say sorry, like if you step on someone’s toe or accidentally open their stall door while they’re going to the bathroom. But most of the time I apologize when I should say thank you.

For example, I have to ask a lot of questions about where to find files at work because I’m really bad at finding things. Usually I apologize for being such a goof to my coworker, but the other day I took a different approach. Instead of groveling in my inadequacy, I simply thanked her for her patience.

When you apologize instead of saying thank you, you’re demeaning yourself. It’s an immediate arrow that points to you and lets the world know you did something wrong. Sometimes this humility is good, but too often it’s incorrect.

Here’s how I know it’s an issue. Nine times out of 10 if I bump into a woman at the grocery store, we’ll both begin a parade of apologies to each other. Nine times out of 10 if I bump into a man in a grocery story, I’ll apologize and he’ll either ignore me or say it’s okay.

It’s ridiculous and I want it to stop.

If I start talking about my feelings too much, I tell my friend I’m sorry for dumping on them. Or if I start to go crazy at a meeting, I apologize for being long winded. In both cases, I’m discrediting myself and putting the burden on someone else. It’s much easier to thank a friend for listening and thank co-workers for hearing my ideas. It’s so much nicer, too.

Similarly, I’m going to stop adding qualifiers to my thank yous. Like the other day I accessorized one of my work shirts well and received a lot of compliments. My response to every single person who liked my outfit was “thanks, but my skirt isn’t zipped.” The “thanks, but” will be the death of me.

Even if I don’t say it out loud, I think it. If you compliment something I’ve created, I’ll tell you thanks and think about how I’m actually not great and if you actually knew all the dumb shortcuts I took. But most of the time I’ll say “thanks, but it was actually easy,” instead of just accepting praise of my work.

If you’re like me, and I knew too many of us are, I challenge you to try this too. It’s November so be thankful, not sorry. Any time you’re tempted to apologize, decide if a a thank you works better. I’m positive you’ll find that most of the time it does.

Thank you for taking the time to read my writing each and every week. I appreciate your support and acceptance.

 

Sexism is solved!

Attention: a man just solved the sexism issue and we can all go home and rest beneath our glass ceilings because our work is done. Thank you, man on the Internet, for your brilliant insight into our struggles as women and determining the cause.

“GENIUS MAN WHO SOLVED SEXISM: The fact that girls are torn away from their fathers is the problem. If fathers were in their lives, they would kick the guys ass. A positive father role model is essential for a girls emotional health. Male bashing of 99% of men for what 1% of men do is sexism. All racism, bigotry and sexism is wrong.

This comment appeared under a post from Girl Scouts of the USA. Specifically, this post:

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You wouldn’t believe (actually you probably would) how many comments appeared about this being political and objections from women who don’t really believe in sexism. Fortunately, even GSUSA got involved to be like ‘we can’t be an organization dedicated to girls if we deny the existence of these things’ and at my desk at work I was literally like

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Then I became J Lo reading the other comments pointing out to the doubting women that they don’t think they’ve experienced sexism because we’re programmed to think what we experience is normal. Which it isn’t.

Either way, back to the feminist hero who solved sexism.

First of all, sir, what are you referring to when you say girls are being torn away from their fathers? Is there some epidemic where liberal mothers are stealing children and running away to Canada? Also you imply that if girls had a father, asses would be kicked. Would the fathers kick the ass or would it be the girls who finally have the strength and bravery they need thanks to the loving support of their fathers?

I can’t speak for every girl, mind you, but my mother never tore me away from my father. In fact, she encouraged our relationship even though he was an emotional manipulator and definitely helped me develop a strong case of daddy issues. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard of any of my female friends being torn away from fathers, even if they were deadbeats and it definitely needed to happen.

Second, I do agree we need a positive father figure. I’ve seen first hand what happens when dads abandoned their daughters and toll it takes on them (or maybe these men were helplessly torn away?). I was lucky that I had one dad who really tried to screw me up and I had another father who did his best to make sure I grew up happy and healthy. I’m somewhere in the middle of a wreck and a functioning member of society as a result.

Will I agree it’s the end all, be all solution? Probably not.

Thirdly, you address the bashing of 99% of men for what 1% do and call it sexism. I’m not scientist, but if I did a study on all the men I’ve encountered and determined which ones behaved in a way that was sexist or unchivalrous, I’m positive it would be at least 60% who needed to be bashed because of their actions.

Even my wonderful, positive father role model believes that a bad driver is probably a woman. Which is a sexist comment, by the way.

Your ‘not all men’ argument is just the worst. It’s like saying ‘not all white people’ are racist. Obviously not every person, but enough that it’s a real issue. It’s also very generous to your sex that you would claim only 1% catcall, abuse, objectify, and belittle women. Clearly you’ve never spent a day as a woman and tried to do anything.

The worst part is, it isn’t just reserved for the really hot girls like you see in the movies. I don’t have to walk down the street with the wind blowing just right to get cat called. I’ve been as frumpy as you can get and still received honks and nods. Don’t get me started when I’m wearing a dress in my car. The truck drivers really love to let me know they enjoy my style.

For the record, I wasn’t even counting all those men in my previous estimated percentage. If you’re going to tell us ‘not all men,’ at least provide realistic percentages.

Finally, we agree on your last point that all racism, bigotry, and sexism is wrong. It’s also wrong for you, as a man, to comment on a post about women’s right and assume you have the answer for our problems. Which is unsurprisingly male-related.

The real solution is to raise a generation of girls AND boys who recognize that we are in fact equal and just because people have always behaved a certain way doesn’t make it right. It’s more than just women fighting for equality and men telling us we need father figures. It’s a concentrated effort for everyone to say we’ve been doing this wrong and we need to get better.

Here is the sexist thing I will say to you: for too long men have stood on top of the world and made a big ol mess of everything, all while telling women where our place in the world was. They created boys clubs to keep us out and assume we’re bra burners if we dare call ourselves feminist. We even have a president who can brag about grabbing women by their [word I will not say or use] and it’s fine because it’s locker room talk. Collectively, men are the worst. I have met men who seem to get it what most do not and they’re wonderful unicorns.

My last thought is if you have a daughter, which I hope you do unless you’re just trolling posts on Facebook, is to think about how you’re raising her. Certainly don’t raise her to hate men, but don’t let her think it’s only 1% who will treat her like she’s less. Always do your best to show her how she’s so much more.

And please stop trying to mansplain sexism.

Anything Could Happen

Do you ever do something really stupid, like go to someone’s profile you shouldn’t, see a picture you don’t like, and then proceed to read all the comments? You can’t even argue it seems like a good idea at the time. You know it’s a terrible idea. Yet on you scroll.

What are we expecting to find? Perhaps that picture of him with someone else is secretly a love call to you and you just have to find the proof. Maybe it’s not that radical. Maybe it’s as simple as you need to learn it’s his or her cousin so you can move on with your life.

And by move on, I of course mean continue to obsess over someone who may or may not even know of your interest and/or existence.

Usually, though, it’s not a cousin and suddenly all your hopes and dreams are dashed. I’ve found that usually it’s a picture on a beach. If they’re on a beach together, especially if it’s a piggy back situation, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

It feels like everything inside of you sinks. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. It’s like there’s this weight of hope you’ve been holding at the top of yourself and suddenly it falls through you. It rests in the pit of your stomach and begins feeding you lies.

For me, the line is usually ‘of course he’d be with someone like her. Look at her long hair and normal sized forehead. Your hair looks crazy in the wind like you have a skullet. You’re probably too heavy to be lifted up like that. She’s wearing an appropriate amount of blush.’ Etc.

Then it can spiral even worse. Even though you didn’t really have a connection to this person, you just feel disconnected. Like your one hope is gone and now you’re left alone. The good news is you know alone, it’s all you know.

Writing this makes me feel pathetic because yeah, this just happened. And here I am whining with my words about another boy who barely knew I existed living a happy life. It’s not like we had anything or he’s my ex. He’s just a boy and I just had a crush.

I can remove myself from the situation and realize this doesn’t actually affect my life. I don’t really care about him. It’s just the idea of him that I like. Having an idea is better than having nothing, I guess. But now I can’t pretend in my head like this is a real possibility.

I guess I’m just tired of being alone and without an idea, it feels like this will be my permanent state of being.

But you know what? Screw that.

I’ve been boyfriend-less for basically a decade, but it’s been a great 10 years. I’ve had some hangs but looking back they were all idiots. Literally. I don’t have one good guy on my roster. That’s what happens when you worry about being alone and let any jerk into your life.

The past 10 years were exceptional because they weren’t about dating. I didn’t devote my life to finding these fools; I just let them in when they stumbled in my general area. Instead I devoted that time to my family, Sam (it isn’t fair to say friends in general), myself, and my faith. And you know what? I really like who I am.

How is this relevant? I like who I am and I don’t need someone else to validate this person. If I never meet someone, I’m going to be okay. I’m happy for other people when they find love in a very sincere way. I’m not bitter. I’m brave.

Is it weird to call yourself brave? Ugh.

As far as the idea goes, a person becomes an idea because you feel you have a lack of options. You cling to this one guy or girl because you need someone to pin your hopes on. Let’s get our hopes up for something real and good, not something largely made up in our heads.

Instead of allowing one person to be responsible for our happiness let’s remember that anything could happen, because anything happens all the time.

Now I’m going to continue my day while listening to Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding on repeat. It’s such a bop. Next time you discover your crush is in a new relationship, don’t let the sinking feeling keep you down. Turn Anything Could Happen up loud and remind yourself that their happiness does not mean the end of yours.

Anything is about to happen to you.

Just like always

The title of this post is strange, especially when you consider it’s about my trip to Las Vegas which was anything but ‘just like always.’ Then again, it’s also about my brother, so it works.

Last week, I crossed the United States for the second time, this time visiting Sin City herself, Las Vegas. In 2009 during the height of Hangover obsession, I wanted to visit and see the sites like everyone else. Actually, my interest started much younger with Vegas Vacation, the Chevy Chase classic. Literally everything I know about Vegas, I learned from this movie.

Naturally, I landed and saw the Strip and assumed I would eat at the most glorious buffets and put a coin and machine and magically win a car. My only goal was to see Wayne Newton. Maybe ride in a limo and hang out of the sunroof.

Spoiler alert: None of this happened.

My trip to Vegas wasn’t based on my own interest, but that of my little brother. My angelic little baby decided he wanted to go to Las Vegas for his 21stbirthday. It’s not that I didn’t want to go but going there since I stopped drinking seemed ridiculously less fun. I mean you can drink on the streets in Vegas! It’s basically a dream for partyers.

Getting there is pretty inexpensive, but I quickly learned that’s because the city will bleed you dry. I budgeted for all my food and transportation needs while I was there, and it was ALMOST as much as I paid to get, stay, and leave there. I have a lot of reasons I’m thankful I don’t drink anymore, but Vegas prices might be at the top.

My actual view. Yes my hotel doubled as a castle.

Still, my room had a great view of the strip because we were just two hotels away from the end. It was like a scene from a postcard when it was lit up at night. This was one of my favorite things from the trip. See, I’m all about the bright flashing lights. Orlando is my favorite place in the world, after all, and Las Vegas is like Orlando took a shot of coke and ecstasy and covered itself in glitter. Aka my dream.

Mandalay Bay and the lot where the shooting occurred

The other side of our hotel had a more somber view. Mandalay Bay is the first hotel on the strip coming from the airport, which means I could see the lot where the 2017 Las Vegas shooting occurred. Our Uber driver told us it’s been blocked by curtains for a year since the tragedy with no real plans about reopening.

It’s easy to hear about something and even see footage but seeing the site and where the shooter placed himself was heartbreaking. Near the lot was a billboard that read “#VEGASSTRONG” and reminders of this unity popped up all along the strip.

We started the trip with a journey to Fremont Strip, aka Old Vegas. It was just as cool as everyone said. The screen over the street was brightly lit and occasionally there was a special show featuring an artist. We ate in a restaurant located just off Fremont in an old timey casino and I was in love. It made me so interested in the history of Vegas, like how did it get started? Did someone decide to create a city founded on debauchery?

Devan and his sisters ❤️

The next day was my brother’s actual 21st, so we had breakfast, walked the Strip, and then returned for a nap and to get ready. We planned to be fancy people for dinner. Naturally, my Navy-brother outshone us all in his suit. Dinner was Gallagher’s and then we danced at Coyote Ugly. It seems really trashy, but it was a great time.

She ended up drawing a thong. It was great.

On our last day, we gambled a bit and almost broke even. It wasn’t even super tempting to keep trying because you can smoke in casinos and it was gross. Oh! We also walked to In N Out Burger. Before leaving, we went to Tournament of Kings, a Medieval Times-esque show, and there were so many hot dudes. Sorry to be crass, but it’s my biggest takeaway. Also we were Ireland and our king was super attractive but really kind of a disaster in the tournament.

Babe status

The best part of the trip happened in between all of the last day activities. After we checked out of our room, my sister and I weren’t sure how we would spend our time. We bought a pack of cards (actually used in our hotel’s casino) and went to the food court and played Rummy. Soon, our brother joined, and we taught him. He was so bad at first, it made Kristi look good. We did this before and after Tournament of Kings and it was so much fun, even if we were deliriously tired.

If I’m being honest, my relationship with my brother is strange. Not bad, strange, just strange. See, he’s my half-brother through my father and for most of our lives, our dad was our connection. When we saw Devan, it was at our dad’s. As we got older and our relationship with our father began to fall apart, we made more of an effort to see Devan on our own time.

As the years progressed, we gradually spent less time together. Gone were the full weekends where we slept in bunkbeds and fought about everything. It became whenever he and I were both at dads or when Kristi was home from college and then when I was visiting from school or Pittsburgh. We moved to Buffalo and it got even harder. Now the little brat is in the Navy adding yet another city we have to factor into meeting.

This trip would mark the first time in more than a decade we’d spent this much time together. Honestly, it made me a little nervous. What would our relationship be like when it wasn’t just for a few hours, dinner, and a movie?

Even with the weird dynamics of going with his family, it wasn’t different at all. Fortunately for us, Devan is the sweetest and most sincere person I may have ever met. He’s only concerned about the rest of us and making sure we’re included. Obviously he’s a total goober, but that doesn’t take away from him being the best guy I know.

As we played Rummy together, it reminded me of something he used to say as a child. It was somewhere between his phase of smelling our feet and locking us in the bathroom. We would all be in our dad’s room watching TV and he would throw himself on the bed in-between us, sigh contentedly, and say ‘just like always.’

I’ve missed that comfortability as we’ve gotten older. The three of us, often plus our dad, used to lie on his full-sized bed and watch movies together. I’ve tried so hard to distance myself from that time and my feelings because of my relationship with my dad that I didn’t realize I was starting to erase Devan too.

Lucky for me, because Devan is so great, he loves me just as much as he always has, and it shows. I love that through everything, we’re all still important to each other.

Admittedly my dad has failed in the father department in a number of ways, but I’ll always be thankful that through him I have my baby brother. I’m so thankful that when we’re together, it’s just like always with us.

Vegas, baby. Bringing families together.

That feeling of impending doom

Recently I was talking to a friend about anxiety and how we were currently feeling. She was in the process of getting on medication while I carefully weaned myself off* (*I cut it to half dose and then stopped cold turkey after three days). As we sat there comparing our reactions, she told me she was in the ‘impending doom phase,’ and it immediately made sense to me.

My entire life I’ve dealt with feelings of impending doom. As a child, something in me snapped too early and I realized just how fragile human existence is. Literally anything and everything can kill you. It’s horrifying.

One time I was going to take a bath as a child but stopped because I was sure lava was going to come out of the faucet. I’ve set alarms for various points throughout a night because I was sure the strange pain in my chest meant I was going to die. Sometimes I would go into my parent’s room and sleep on the floor because I was too afraid of everything that could happen.

These are just a few of the many ways I let this kind of anxiety get in my way. For a while, I believed this gut feeling of something bad is coming was a sign. Like maybe God was trying to warn me so I could be okay if I just listened.

This thought is reinforced by stories you hear of people who die tragically after telling someone they have a weird feeling. Relatives and friends will say they told someone to not do this or that because they felt it was a bad omen, and then the worst happened. We’re taught to believe in these feelings of impending doom.

What I’ve learned in 28 years of being afraid is that it doesn’t matter what that feeling tells me. I’ve stayed home from outings because I was sure I would die in a car wreck and I’ve fought through the fear and gotten on a plane. I have no control either way and my anxiety isn’t based on anything real. It’s my lack of control sending me spiraling.

As I write this, I’m on a plane from Pittsburgh bound for LAX. After five hours in an airport, I’ll take a quick flight to Vegas to celebrate my brother’s birthday. I picked a bad time to stop taking my Lexapro, let me tell you. I also just moved into my own apartment. Naturally, I was sure my plane would crash and my apartment would burn down. Plus, there was a guy at my gate who kept suspiciously staring outside and I’m still not convinced of his innocence.

Granted, in this moment, all of this could still happen, but I’m being optimistic.

If I listened to all the lies filling my head, I would never have boarded a plane. I wouldn’t leave my apartment because of what could happen in my absence, not to mention what will happen to me in the world.

As my faith has grown, I’m able to recognize that God doesn’t have a special button He pushes to keep me safe through these feelings. Jesus is sneaking a text to my soul while God and the Holy Spirit are talking. God’s plan doesn’t depend on my interpretation of feelings. Can you imagine if that’s what we had to rely on? That living or dying was all a matter of properly discerning a feeling of impending doom.

It’s absolutely nuts.

I believe you can have a feeling about something and that something can happen, good or bad, but it’s probably just a coincidence. I’m not sure statistics for this exist, but I will reasonably assume that the impending doom feeling to actual doom ratio is pretty low.

The feeling of impending doom is like a cloud of dread that fills your body and sends little cloud tentacles into your brain to reinforce the idea that the worst is yet to come. It can and has been paralyzing in my own life. I don’t know if I’ll ever live without it, but I know I won’t let it keep me from actually being alive.

That sounds cheesy, I realize, but it’s true. If I do end up dying and this laptop/story is recovered, please read it aloud at my funeral for inspiration and then play ‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morrisette. Lighters in the air are encouraged.

Anxiety is a real mental illness. I have a real imbalance that causes my emotions to malfunction and send me over the edge. Recognizing this is empowering. Even if I can’t stop the feeling of impending doom, I can remind myself it’s nonsense and get on the plane even with the guy who might be a terrorist.

Why I can’t forget when it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day

It feels like every single day there’s something to celebrate on Instagram with a hashtag

#nationaldogday

#nationalmuttday

#nationalsiblingsday

#nationalsistersday

#nationalbestfriendday

#nationalbffday

#nationaldonutday

#nationalpizzaday

#nationalwallowinselfpityday

You get the idea.

There are a thousand nonsensical holidays that none of us will ever actually remember, but there’s one I’ll never forget. Talk Like a Pirate Day. To understand why, we need to travel together back 11 years ago.

The year was 2007 and I was a junior in high school. It was my second year of braces and just two days after I passed my driving test. Here’s a 17-year-old me to really set the mood.

10400543_22064111394_9616_n.jpg

Just so you know, I have like 20 other pictures of me and my friend Brittany wearing tubes and being weirdos. Teenagers are weird.

It’s important to note that at this time I was obsessed with High School Musical (2 to be exact). I believed the music was actually quality and spent time trying to convince my mother of its greatness. I remember this because one of the songs was my ringtone.

This one to be exact.

All I want is for Zac Efron to say that I’m the music in him.

So obviously this is embarrassing for several reasons, but it gets worse. It was the morning of September 19 and I was in my first class of the day, AP English. This year we focused on rhetoric. I remember this because I still don’t understand rhetoric. It won’t surprise you to learn I didn’t get a high enough score on the AP Exam to count as college credit.

It’s just a normal morning with my wonderful instructor Mrs. Sherman trying to teach us something. I’m sorry Mrs. Sherman. I even remember some of the summer reading books like The Scarlett Letter and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I didn’t read them, but I remember. Did I mention you’re a great teacher?

All of the sudden, I hear my current favorite song come blasting out of my pocket. Oh no. I didn’t turn my phone down. The literal horror. Quickly I open and close my pink Razr (still my favorite phone) and pray to God my teacher didn’t notice.

She did.

As I’m fumbling to turn it down, it rings again and I realize it’s my mother trying to call me. The chorus to ‘You Are The Music in Me’ fills the classroom and Mrs. Sherman, fortunately amused, tells me to answer.

At this point, I’m nervous. My mom never calls us during school. She didn’t even like texting us during school hours because we should be paying attention. To get a call during class time must mean the apocalypse was upon us or I forgot I needed to catch the Braces Express for an orthodontist appointment.

I answer anxiously and then I hear her enthusiastic response. Okay, so no one’s dead. That’s a plus. I tell her I’m in class and ask why she’s calling. She then asks why I would answer and I let her know my teacher said I could. Finally, after what felt like 20 minutes, she gets to why she called me.

It’s National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Knowing my deep love of Will Turner aka Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean, she thought I’d really like to know.

September 19 is a day that will live in the infamy of embarrassing moments that shaped my youth.

Moving away from my embarrassment, I really love this story. Sometimes when I talk about JT (my name for my mom when I’m referencing her stern side) I worry I give people the wrong impression because of how she sounds. My mom is the greatest. I wouldn’t trade her for any mom in the world, even Meryl Streep. Yes, she was strict and expected a lot from us, but she also called just to tell me it was Talk Like a Pirate Day because she knew I liked pirates. My mom has always been the Hannah Montana* of parents, the best of both worlds between fun and strict.

*I had to fit one more 2007 reference in there