Accepting- it’s a process

My mid-twenties have been ponderous. It seems that for every warm and fuzzy realization comes an equally heart-heavy burden of truth.

I’m convinced that these years are meant for practicing acceptance. (P.S. I’m counting 24-26 as my mid-twenties.) Like most things, it’s a process. A painfully drawn out process if you’re anything like me and always trying to jump from A to M…

Accepting your body, your parents, your weaknesses/strengths, etc. isn’t something that happens over night. It doesn’t have a clear beginning or end. It’s a process. 

Carrying out this process can leave you feeling liberated, happy, relieved…or, it can leave you feeling sad, scared, angry. Recognizing these emotions is the most important part. Learning to sit with them is another story. (Although, my therapist swears it’s important and worthwhile to do. I believe her. She’s great.) 

I’m going to give it a try; you should too!

Things I learned while camping

1) I love camping. 2) Matt is my very own Wisconsin version of Bear Grylls. 3) Green Bay Packers fans > Chicago Bears fan (sorry, I witnessed it with my own eyes). 4) Sometimes quieter, slower and simpler days are just what we need to reboot.

Door County, Oct. 2014

I love camping. Matt loves camping, too. This year’s trip was just the two of us, and as always, we proved that we are one magnificent team. 

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I love our camping trip to Peninsula State Park for a lot of the same reasons that I love Matt. Camping is cozy. I love layering up in the morning and feeling warm and fuzzy throughout the day. Matt is cozy. Whether we’re camping or not, his arms alway feel like an electric blanket’s worth of warmth when wrapped around me.

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I eat the best meals when camping. Camping food is the best. Matt works hard to build a fire (this year I learned how to, too). He makes all of the bacon because, why the hell not? I cook all the eggs because, well, it’s silly to worry about eating too many eggs when you need them to wash down all of that delicious bacon. Food brings people together, and Matt and I have been bonding over our favorite meals since the days we pretended things weren’t “so serious.”

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Adventure. We take time to get lost in the woods, to get dirty and wet and to act like we’re 5 years old again, regardless of who is watching.

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I love everything about camping. The smells, the naps, the hikes, the good and even the sometimes bad weather. Everything he does makes me smile, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate such a terrific human being than by escaping to the woods. He works so hard. All while remaining honest and true to himself and to us. He keeps my head grounded and my heart young. Our trips will only get better as years go by, and I want those years to stick to us the way bonfire smoke lingers on our clothes days after we’re home. 

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Sometimes you just need to get away. Sometimes reconnecting requires us to disconnect from our everyday this and that. No time, no routine, no pressure. Getting lost to finding center; getting dirty and messy to feel alive.

I ran alongside this beautiful sunrise today with my dedicated running buddy, Omar. Absolutely beautiful. 

I ran alongside this beautiful sunrise today with my dedicated running buddy, Omar. Absolutely beautiful. 

Some of my favorite things to do (now that I’m 25)

I really enjoy steeping and drinking different kinds of loose leaf tea. I love yoga and meditating. I am cooking more. Reading more. Writing more. I love staying home to watch TV during and week and no longer feel guilty about doing so during the weekend, too. I love experiencing art and catching up with family. I like finding a cozy spot outside to sit and stare. I am observant and always taking in information, curiously applying it to my thoughts and beliefs. I enjoy taking my time, processing and reflecting on mostly anything occurring around me. I like meeting strangers and learning where they come from. I love my home, and I love to redecorate it over and over again. I love riding the bus and looking out the window.

I really love my life. And now this year, I will learn to love myself.

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I am 25 years old today. For some reason, I’ve been anxiously waiting for this day since I was 10 or 11 years old. In my mind, I saw 25 as being a girl’s it year, the year it all came together and felt warm and fuzzy for her.

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I can confidentially say that 10 or 11-year-old me is overly pleased right now. Nothing feels forced, rushed or inadequate. Everything feels in place, processed and rich with purpose. Life feels comfortably open ended; it’s building momentum.

Charlotte Davis Kasl, Ph.D., by way of her published work, has been a special kind of mentor to me in my last 6 months of being 24 years old. By adapting Kenneth Stokes’ work and borrowing from James Fowler’s ideas, Kasl developed her own “six stages of faithing.”

I’ve placed myself in the middle of stage four— Late Adolescence and Early Adulthood, The Critic: Ages sixteen-twenties and thirties. Here are a few of my favorites of this stage to date:

"Fear starts to slip away as an internal sense of self is born." 

"Questioning can be painful, confusing, relieving, exhilarating—but it helps us move beyond fear."

"[S]omthing precious is waking up inside, feeling alive, making music, learning to love."

"To question the unquestionable—a metaphor for developing autonomy from parents—is to give birth to the self."

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Fireside Chicago, Ravenswood

Lately, I’m waking up with a new sense of flexibility. Maybe it’s the yoga, maybe it’s stage four or perhaps it’s simply because I’m getting more sleep and taking better care of myself. That’s when I realize that I can’t attribute my happiness to only a select group of experiences; I must be thankful and appreciate them all, because 25 whole years have carried me to today. 

I want to thank my family and friends for making this weekend so very special and full of laughter and love. I’m looking forward to spending this beautiful Sunday, Sept. 28th, 2014 with my handsome better half. 

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Fireside Chicago, Ravenswood

What I’m doing is enough.

If there was ever a morning to run along the lakefront, today’s was it. 

As I left my apartment, I thought, “Okay, you gotta go fast today. You’ve got to make up for all the running that you didn’t do during the week.” A second thought quickly challenged that assumption. “No, you don’t.” 

I’ve spent the last 10 years pushing myself, both physically and mentally. Being driven and possessing a natural instinct to challenge yourself is a good thing (and it has done me very well), but I’ve learned that if you’re not careful, you can develop a cycle of always first assuming that what you’re doing isn’t good enough. 

As most of you know, I began working through some serious stuff at the beginning of this summer (4 months without a drink - yay!), and as summer ends, I’m finally beginning to reap the rewards of those tough decisions and of that hard work.

A lot of it boils down to no longer judging my every move.

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I owe much of my progress to this book, among a few others that I’d happily share with those who are interested. 

"I should, I should, I should, I should…this, that and the other," were constantly polluting the natural flow and workings of my brain. Rather than taking a moment to pause and appreciate what I was currently doing (running, writing, reading, solving a problem, having a conversation), I was assuming that my efforts were all wrong, when really any present effort made it all very right. 

So as I arrived at my usual starting line of the path, I assured myself that any mileage at any pace would be enough. After all, I made the decision to run this morning because it’s so incredibly gorgeous out, and I wanted to be outside.

So that’s what I did, and it was great. It was enough.

Mom

When people tell me that I have a beautiful smile, I think of my Mom.

I have my Mom’s smile. 

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Door County, 2008

It doesn’t seem fair that her birthday weekend lands on what feels like our last weekend of summer. My Mother in many ways is summer. 

I have her same love and appreciation for the beach and the summer heat, too. Many of my first memories are with her at the beach. I feel like we went every weekend, and I loved it. Sometimes, she’d go rollerblading north of the beach, and I’d follow on my bicycle. Other days we’d plant ourselves in the sand with a cooler full of snacks and a radio - just two sun bunnies in love along Lake Michigan. 

From my Mother I get my edge, my spunk and my charm. She has always encouraged us girls to go after whatever it is we want in life.

Growing up, I watched my Mother build a career from what may have once felt like nothing, and that has taught me to use and appreciate everything. She’s worked very hard to be the best mother that she knows how to be, and for that, I will always thank her. 

When near her, I feel safe, and nothing can hurt or dim my spirits. I hope to always exhibit her level of enthusiasm for experiencing life and for sharing those experiences with whom she loves most: her family.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I look forward to another year of learning from one another and of loving each other to pieces.

I hope you and Dad got to dance to this while in the Dells. XO

We’ve made it!

So many thoughts have been flying around my head since Matt accepted his job. It feels a lot like floating. 

Since moving to Chicago we’ve been walking up a pretty steep hill. Being broke and tired in Chicago is hard. We were spending all of our days and nights at work and in school. It’s no wonder we didn’t do too much our first two years here - we didn’t have any money or time to even consider it. We were grateful for the jobs we had, but we weren’t being respected by our superiors. 

We’ve worked our butts off, and we’ve learned a lot of important lessons. Now, it’s time to enjoy life at ease. We’re both working jobs that don’t make a lot of money, but they’re jobs that we love. They’re jobs that challenge us everyday and reward us when those challenges are met by our skill and talent.

And we’re planning things - all kinds of things! The trips we dreamed up last year are closer than ever. Our future knows no limits now. We can choose to do the things we’ve always wanted without sacrificing our most basic needs. We are no longer only trying to survive; we are budding into the lives we’ve always hoped would grow. 

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I realize that this isn’t a feeling that everyone gets to in their lifetime. There are people who will work hard all of their lives and never experience what we’re experiencing now. That makes me sad. I wish that everyone could experience what it feels like to be without worry.

If there has ever been a time in my life where I’ve felt the utmost grateful, this is it.

As excited as we are, we will remain grounded and balanced. There will be yet another phase in our life together when we need to walk back up that steep hill.

It’ll be tough but also a bit easier, and we’ll have this moment to thank for that.

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Breakfast with Matt today.

It’s the most important meal of the day, so it only makes sense to share it with the most important person in your life.