JAMIE

I am currently listening to the Frozen soundtrack for the 9,472nd time this week.  That’s right.  For the past week my sister has been staying with us along with my 5 week old nephew and my 1 1/2 year-old niece who is infatuated with Frozen, just like every other young human in the world.  My eyes pop open in the morning and I’m immediately singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” and twirling around as if I have magical powers to freeze things.  Disney, man, you win.

But this week was more than an unending musical.  This week I finished my first year back to school after a four year hiatus.  I gave myself a pat on the back because I’m proud.  I’m proud that I finally took the initiative to go back despite every apprehension.  Part of me feels really cool and accomplished.  But there are actually tons of people doing things that are so much cooler.  Like the people who are graduating this weekend with their undergrad or masters.  Or, hi, how about Meb Keflezighi who just won the Boston freaking Marathon at the age of 38.

Or my friend Jamie, an insanely gorgeous and adventurous beauty I met when I lived in Jackson, Wyoming.  She’s originally from New York, and her quick wit and raw honesty are evidence of this.  She will call you out if you’re being an idiot and stand behind everything she believes with sincere grit.  Jamie also goes on travel adventures that can make the Homebody of the Year want to get out and see the world.

Like back in 2012 when she decided to spend some time in Thailand.  And then extended her stay and traveled through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.  We were all back in Jackson just waiting for her to return and then she would decide to stay longer…and longer….and longer.  She met people along the way with whom she traveled, and went on solo adventures as well.  She’s truly a badass.

 

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Gaaah, I love to hate her (with love).

There’s also the time, in 2011, when she traveled to South America and did things like this:

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Yes, sand boarding down the Huacachina dunes

 

 

 

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biking a dangerous 13,123 feet downhill road (with oncoming traffic) in Peru

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ziplining….with that setting. GAH.

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Hiking Machu Picchu

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Doing this

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I mean, really.  Just stop.

During her South America trip she visited Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Argentina.  Whoa.  During the past couple years she’s gone on some shorter trips to Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala.

Jamie isn’t a born world traveler.  It wasn’t until 2007 at the age of 27 that she went on her first solo trip to Costa Rica, just after spending her first summer out west in Jackson Hole.  It gives me hope that maybe my traveling days haven’t even started.  If I can head anywhere in the direction Jamie has gone, I’ll be a wildly happy girl.  As I was going back and forth with Jamie today on the phone, she also mentioned that after this summer she wants to buy a one way ticket to…somewhere.  She listed off a couple places, but for the sake of keeping you in the dark, not giving away all her secrets, and for the hope that she may get back to sharing her adventures through her own blog, I’m not going to tell you.  (JAMIE’S BLOG HERE)

There are things that change us, and I think travel is one of them.  The kind of travel where you get deep into the culture and be a little vulnerable.  The kind of travel where not everything is planned out.  Where maybe you get lost and come out with a really great story.  You can start it with “Ah, that reminds me of that time I got so lost in the middle of the jungle on Easter Island and the natives spit on me because I have red hair.” …..or something like that.

My grandparents didn’t start traveling until they were in their 60’s, and my grandma was skeptical.  After their first trip overseas, however, she was hooked.  It’s apparently the best drug out there.

I hope with all my heart that I don’t wait until I’m 60.  I hope with all my heart that you don’t either.

Do you have any truly awesome travel tales?  I’d love to hear/read them.

Also, if you are one of my readers outside of the U.S., I want to say THANK YOU for reading.  Let’s get in touch, let’s connect, let’s talk about each other’s cultures and hometowns.  Seriously.  And then maybe we can visit each other.

Lastly, thank you, Jamie, for being as awesome as you are (and for letting me use your photos).  I have a very special place in my heart that is just for you.

To our passports,

Cheers!

 

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Why I Need Goals and Goals Need Me.

I won’t bring up taxes if you won’t, deal?

Deal.

Instead let’s talk about goals.  They can be our greatest accomplishments in life and also our truest struggles.  

I’ve told you all about my friend Ryan, who writes a list of goals to accomplish every year.  Kind of like resolutions, but without the “this is what I want to change” and more “this is what I want to do.”  Right now, he’s cruising all over the U.S. in an RV building his business and living day to day, adventure to adventure.  

His goals on that list were more important than any money a 9-5 job could offer.  So he quit his 9-5 job.  He became an entrepreneur (a huge goal of his) and is currently in Utah, hiking in Moab and daring his fear of heights to get the best of him.  

Ryan and I aren’t super close, but his stories inspire me all the time, and I love giving a shout out to those who either directly or indirectly impact me.  So, Ryan, THANK YOU!

When it comes to my own list of goals, I want so badly to be able to do such daring things like Ryan.  But instead, especially lately, I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to do all of the grown-up things 27-year-olds like me “should be doing” like updating my resume and looking for a 9-5 job/career, saving for a house, getting approved for a home loan, fixing and cleaning my car, and totally not doing my taxes because we said we wouldn’t talk about them.

But then I sit down and see my List of Goals that I wrote 4 months ago sitting wrinkled and dusty on my nightstand and wonder how I could let them become so neglected?    

oh sure I’ve crossed a few off my list like going to Costa Rica and zip-lining through the jungle and getting good grades in school…but there are so many more that I’ve set aside and forgotten about, and now I’m craving that warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishing something you’ve wanted for so long.

For instance, a couple from my list:

  • take a road trip
  • save $______
  • become a morning person
  • be a clean person
  • go skydiving
  • visit mountains
  • pay it forward
  • drive a stick shift 
  • travel across the ocean

All quite Earth-shattering, I know.

It’s easy to look around and wish for your life to be like this or that, so it’s no wonder I feel like I should be at a certain point or have more accomplished. 

For instance, I’m currently sitting in a dear friend’s house after spending the weekend here taking care of her dog while she and her husband are away for business/pleasure.  It’s a gorgeous home complete with crazy stuff like furniture and decorations, stuff I haven’t had to think or worry about in what seems like way too long.  And I could very easily get sad/depressed/angry at myself/steal all of their things, but what would be the point?  It won’t change my situation one bit (except for that hat that I’m stealing…it changes up my head wardrobe a little).  

What would change my situation, however, would be to keep getting after my goals.  Without purposefully accomplishing the small, specific goals on my list  ( i.e. save $_______) I will never reach any of the big ones (purchase that home on the street that starts with a T, fly across an ocean, etc.).

I’m happy I updated my resume, and cleaned my car, and signed away all my money to the government on time.  And I would still love to buy a house, but I’m not going to be complacent with that.  I’m not cool with letting my age or society tell me I have to be a certain way at a certain time.  There is no real set of rules for how to live your life other than the rules you set for yourself. 

So here’s to getting back to the List and always striving to be better than the day before, 

Cheers!

P.S. You could cross off another one today for me.  (ahhhh so suspenseful!)

 

Finding Home

 

Yesterday, April 1, marked two years since I’ve moved back to Michigan. It was also my mother’s birthday.

Two years ago I walked into the house I grew up in after driving 26 hours across the country to surprise my mom on her birthday. What a fun birthday surprise, right?

What she didn’t realize was that I also had my car packed full of all my junk to move back into her house (for what would turn into a two year visit).

This video is of that moment, caught in all its awkward splendor by my sister, Rachel (she and my Dad were “in the know”). I remember being terrified, shaking, wondering how she would react. I also remember that I was terrified and shaking for more than just that reason. (um, i’ll work on the video…not tech saavy)

I made the decision to move home pretty quickly, and I had no idea if my soul was ready to be plunked so suddenly back into the town I grew up in.

I made the decision to move out to Wyoming late in November, 2009, after many conversations with one of my best friends in the world, Betsy. She was already living out there, and had grown in so many ways – personally, spiritually, etc. I craved the same experience, and finally, I told her, “I’m coming out there.”

She was the only reason it came to fruition. She found the apartment, put down the deposit. She made every single plan, and in a very short time, because just over a month after I made the decision to pack up and go, I was on the road. January 3, 2010, and told myself I would never live in Michigan again.

I can’t imagine that now. I’m going to be very real with you for a minute: I was a part-time waitress at Applebees. I had saved up just over $500. I had no job waiting for me out there.

I think about it now and wonder, how the heck did I dare to do that?!

There is no way it would happen today. I can’t commit to purchasing a brand new computer, for goodness sake.

But it’s because Michigan no longer felt like home to me. I felt suffocated, branded, and judged by it. I felt like it accused me of not fitting in (and feeling like an outsider in your hometown isn’t fun). I also had this free-spirit-wanna-be-hippie-but-totally-not thing going on inside of me that was the most tumultuous roller coaster, and the only way I can describe it is that I was at a loss for an identity. Which makes perfect sense. Because if you don’t feel at home in yourself, how are you supposed to feel at home in your hometown?

But that brought on another issue: If you have no sense of who you are in one place, you are not guaranteed to find it in another.

I thought Wyoming would solve my problems. Small town, mountains in your backyard, how could that not fill your soul every day with answers to life?

Well, it doesn’t. There were times out west when I felt more detached, more lost, confused, anxious, and angry than I ever felt in Michigan. I know without a doubt that the emptiness I felt was as present as my physical self. If I thought leaving Michigan would only make things better, I quickly found out how wrong I was.

Okay, the point I’m trying to make/the blessing. (I know, I know, thank you God there is a good part, because seriously, super depressing here)

Things slowly began to heal inside of me. I thought I was so tough and so (eek, this is hard to write) right, (No seriously, I thought I was always right) when I actually had NO idea what was going on in my life or where I was going. If anyone asked me what I believed, what I thought was important, or even what my goals in life were, I had no answer. They would receive from me some confused babbling (trying to sound philosophical, probably). And seriously, when you don’t know this about yourself and then you realize it, you suddenly know deep in your core where you are really supposed to be; where “home” is for you then.  It’s whether or not you take the step to get there.

I packed everything, including anxieties and fears, into my little spaceship-looking car and headed back to Michigan. You can see in the video how unsure I am. I mean, come on, I’m looking the mother who loves me beyond my wildest imagination in her eyes saying “I’m home” and then I just stand there. (No wonder she didn’t get it.)

Michigan may not be my home for the rest of my life, and I hope that you can see by now that that isn’t the point. Home is knowing/finding/being comfortable in the search of what you believe in and physically and emotionally stand for every day. It’s the very core of who you are. It’s surrounding yourself, no matter where, with those who bring out the absolute best in you. It’s being caught in the scariest, saddest, most heart-breaking time of your life and having someone to turn to. Those people that will see you for you and, even after you’ve broken their heart time and time again, and love you beyond your shittiness.

Right now, y’all, I’m home.

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Can I give any advice?  Okay, I will

If you’re looking, start by looking at whom you are surrounding yourself with.  It’s everything.

If you think I sound like a crazy person, well, congratulations, because you have probably never had an overdrawn account, broken bone, lost a loved one, or had any other sad moment in your life. Or maybe go take a shot of whiskey and re-read once your emotions are a tad more revved up.

To kicking off your shoes,

Cheers