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 like being 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 the six stages of “faithing” of men and women.

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.

S-e-a-n Campbell Spells “Dad”

If I had to give my Dad a grade, I’d give him an A- (…not an A+ because there is room for improvement in anything, a statement I know that he, himself, would agree with!) 

Most people know that my Mom and Dad were pushed into parenthood at a very young age: 19 years old. My Dad isn’t my biological father. He chose fatherhood at 19 years old. He made a decision to love and support my mother as best as he could and has been ever since.

Their story is quiet unique and beautiful, but that’s for another post. This post is about my Dad and the superhero that he is to me.

My biological father left my Mom shortly after she became pregnant, but my Dad was there to love and support the two of us. This is a photo taken shortly after I was born; Daddy loving me no matter what. Biological father or not - that’s a new Dad falling in love with his little girl.

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When I reflect on my Dad’s life as a father thus far, I am amazed at how far he has come. Becoming a Dad at 19 years old wasn’t easy, and he made a lot of mistakes. He made some bad choices and maybe even said a few things that he wishes he could take back, but there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t love us unconditionally. As a child, I always knew love and that’s not something that everyone can say in this world.

As the years went by, my Dad continued to learned and to grow from every dispute and time of difficulty. He implemented that learning into his own life which quickly complimented our life as a family.

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As a family, we’ve seen each other at our worsts and built each other back up again, and again…and again. Because that’s what families do. They make mistakes, they learn, they try again, they grow and they better themselves for the sake of one another. 

I remember when he worked the graveyard shift and would eat his morning cereal when I was having dinner. I remember him staying up late to study when he decided to change his career. He still accepts side jobs on the weekends to ensure there’s an unforgettable trip to the Florida Keys every year - (I’ve got some catching up to do, I know!) Recently, he’s opened himself up to a more mindful way of healing injuries and ailments that have bothered him for most of his life. He’s taking care of himself which in return takes care of us.

In short: Dad gets it. He understands that we’re all works in progress and the only way to keeping moving forward is to “roll with the changes.” His drive to continually better himself as a man and as a parent is his most admirable quality, and I’ve truly loved watching him grow into who he is. 

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Seattle + Lessons from kayaking

Thank you, Seattle. Thank you for sharing with me your people, your food, your sites and all of your sounds! Some of you may remember my post from earlier this year that I wrote after traveling to San Diego. While this one may ooze a familiar enthusiasm for the West Coast, trust that my love for Washington’s King County is far more special.

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I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the impressive team behind the very company you’ve heard me gushing about all summer. I’m completely convinced that this is where I belong. Not that I needed much convincing but this trip really cemented it all together. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to find yourself fitting in with people from all over the country. I’m leaving Seattle with a pocket full of new mentors and a heart full of new friends in every time zone!

After a night of seafood, laughter and goodbyes beneath the sunset, I embarked on my most rewarding adventure of the week. I welcomed the day by kayaking Lake Washington’s Ship Canal and chased Seattle’s many views of Mount Rainier well into the afternoon - taking a pit stop to the Ballard Locks in between. (A million thank yous, Gene!)

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I love kayaking, and today I realized two important lessons that can be taken away from this magical sport. 1) When the water gets choppy, you don’t fight against waves. Instead, you rock your hips and roll with them. Side-to-side. My Dad is always reminding me to just “roll with the changes,” especially when unexpected ones mess up my finely tuned agenda. Now I have a visual to pair with that mantra. 2) There were moments I found myself rowing only to find…”wait, wait…the current is actually taking me in the direction I want to be going.” It hit me that I could make pieces of my trip easier by putting my oar and arms to rest - letting go. 

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There are going to be things that are out of my control, and that’s okay. And sometimes I’ll need to trust the work that’s already been put out and let everything else, just, happen - because it will. 

While Chicago may be difficult to sell alongside Seattle, I refuse to return home without giving her a big ol’ smooch. Even if her face is hot and sweaty from the humidity, because soon it will be dry and cracked from the cold.

Chicago is a city of extremes and nothing like Seattle, but I owe her too much to ever let myself easily dismiss her many advantages.

Until next time, Seattle! Because there most certainly will be a next time.

Collecting Things

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I’ve always admired people who collect things. I’ve secretly also been very jealous of them. Records, cameras, war memorabilia, Marilyn Monroe calendars, etc.

Why don’t I have a favorite thing? Why don’t I have a desire to accumulate something so particular that I can’t stop learning about it?

Today, while on an airplane, I finally figured it out - perspectives.

I want an entire wall of ‘em, different colors, shapes and sizes.

5 Reasons Why I Love Running (today, at least)

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1. Teeming Thought
My mind follows the steady pacing of my feet. Thinking flows in and out but not in an overwhelming or unfinished way; instead, I reflect and let go. I revisit moments in time, draft messages and often forgive and forget the actions of someone else. Thought never feels quite as fluid when standing still. I can be sitting at my desk or on the bus and will experience a more jagged rhythm, zigzagging from one idea to the next, but never bringing one to closure or a place of rest. A place of rest is a concept that my poor brain doesn’t get to experience very often, so I will forever cherish the way running can harness it all and help stretch it out.

2. Breathing 
This reason shares my gratitude with yoga and therapy (and it totally doesn’t mind). Running has helped me find balance in breathing. In order to pick up the pace, my body needs more oxygen. If something begins to hurt, chances are more oxygen entering my lungs will help. When I’m ready to slow it down, my body uses the air I breathe to begin repairing itself. Similar to the steady flow of my mind, my body knows and understands how to best allocate its resources. As I breath, I focus on dismemberment and where I mean to send that oxygen. Is it going to my legs? My stomach? My shoulders? I’ve been surprised by the many ways thoughtful breathing has benefited my body and overall focus.

3. Connectivity
Runners are really, really nice. I haven’t raced all over the country (or even the state), but all of my experiences have been with hundreds of alike runners making their way through one, usually quiet narrow, coarse. Not once have I witnessed shoving or fighting. Instead, I’ve experienced a world of understanding and never-ending support. I’ve never crossed a finish line with someone familiar to me, but in that moment, we see each other as best friends. In addition to support and encouragement, people share food, clothing and medical supplies with complete strangers and without question. I look around and a runner’s level of experience separates them from no one. Everyone is a runner. It’s really amazing.

4. The view
Chicago is quiet the place to run around, but really, running anywhere can make the most ordinary of places feel exciting. I’m lucky enough to have three beautiful landscapes at the tip of my toes: the lake, big skyscrapers and a few trails. I can plan a run that gives me all three in one workout. Repeating an incredible route can feel like re-watching a Tarantino film - you may know all the words, but you’re always noticing a new detail somewhere buried beneath the main action. There are special areas in Chicago that I’ll avoid driving or taking public transportation on simply because I know it just isn’t the same when I’m off of my feet. 

5. Individual Accomplishment
I don’t care if you’ve ever only run 1 mile or 26.2 - nobody can take away the rush of accomplishment you feel when it’s over. Running is hard. Even though this post is titled, “5 Reasons Why I love Running,” there are a handful of mornings I lie and tell myself that I don’t (usually because I have no choice but to run in the morning that week). This last one is most difficult to explain. I’ve always been an athlete who works alone. I was on a swim team for most of my life, but each race was just between me and the pool. It’s a very personal moment. It’s wrapping your head around what your mind and body have just accomplished together. Everything is working in unison to push forward. It’s really an incredible thing.