All the feelings

A moment in time still rings true
A moment in time still rings true

Two weeks from today will be my last full day at my job. Three days after that, I get on a plane to California, and I’m not using my flight back. Whoa. (Catch up on the situation here.)

In the last few weeks, the emotions that accompany a giant leap like quitting your job and moving across the country to the unknown have been all over the place. Mostly anticipation and excitement, but also fear, sadness, nervousness, and doubt. Some mornings I wake up ready for the world, and ready for this new adventure, but within hours I’m freaking out about health insurance, not having enough moving boxes, and not being able to have a spontaneous happy hour with my best friend after work anymore.

As I’ve been cleaning out boxes and papers and stuff in my apartment, I came across an old journal I kept for a few years in high school specifically about my interests. My dad recommended it so I could narrow in on what I wanted to major in at college, and really start thinking about my career. It was hilarious to see how despite some phases of thinking I wanted to be a forensic psychologist or a counselor, I would charge back with notes about how I couldn’t stand math and science, and how I loved writing, reading, theater, and helping people. “Is there a job that pays well where I can just sit and read all day?” And the best: “I love writing. But it might not fulfill my wishes to help people.”

Today, I can look back and realize how those interests and passions we have in our youth are often the most real and true even after years of school and different jobs. And you know what? I feel pretty good about the fact that my work to date has both involved writing and helping people, or helping to do good. And now, I am going to do more of that, but just in a different way. I’m going to do what I wanted to do all those years as I sat in my room trying to write the next best-selling young adult series, and I’m going to help people, too  — maybe to be better writers, or readers.

Just now on TV, Madonna was being interviewed about a daring, yet very classically Madonna outfit she wore to an event. “There are no rules,” she said. “Just go by what you want.” I’m reminded by something my dad told me when I was struggling with an article for a magazine during an internship. It was a very dry piece, and I didn’t know much about the topic. Despite this, my dad said, “You can write it as is, or you can write it Madonna-style.” Over time, I’ve tried to remember that with my writing, no matter the topic, and with my life — to be true to me, to forget the rules, and to do what I want. It’s not always easy, but it is possible, and it’s worth the risk. And that’s what I’m doing now.

IMG_3955I’ve realized that in the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to set rules for myself, and unnecessary deadlines. I’ve tried to force myself to come to decisions about my work, my relationships, and my future, all by the time I step on the plane on May 24. But what I also realized, with the help of some friends and my parents, is that I’m under no one’s deadlines, and nothing has to happen, except of course the basics, like packing and getting out of my apartment. I can sit around for two months and not do any work, or I can have as much work as I want. I can embrace love and see what happens, and I can change my mind about any of it, whenever I want.

My apartment may be getting emptier as furniture is sold and boxes are packed, but my life is feeling more full by the day. I have been so fortunate to have all these wonderful friends and family and colleagues whom have been supportive and caring and proud and happy for me — and yes, sad — and that have been there for me to be all of those things with them, too.

In the next two weeks, as I’m thinking about spending time with my parents and Corgis and being able to pursue my dreams, I’m also thinking about leaving behind an amazing city that has provided me with opportunity, adventure, and the best friends I could ask for. As an only child, I always treasured my cousins and extended family so much in place of siblings. But these people here have become my family, too. They’ve watched me grow and evolve, they’ve seen me at my happiest, at my lowest, and all the in betweens. And I hope that you are all still there in the months and years to come, so I can be there for you, too, and we can share all the feelings, whatever they are, together.

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Friends Forever (maybe)

They say that love may come and go, but friends are forever. They say that you can’t choose your family but you choose your friends. They say that friends are for life… but are they? More and more it seems like not.

I moved three times by the time I had started seventh grade. Each time, I though I would have trouble making new friends; each time, it worked out. In seventh grade at my new school, I met a girl at the lunch table that would become my best friend — we said we would be each other’s maids of honor, our kids’ godparents. After 13 years of friendship, we had a falling out over an email two years ago and we haven’t talked to each other since. So much for best friends forever. On the other hand, another friend I met in English class in seventh grade is still my friend, 15 years later, and I can see it continuing for many many more years. I haven’t talked to my freshman year roommate in several years but was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding that lived across the hall from me sophomore year. Five of us girls from my first job in DC became close friends and attended weddings and showers and parties together, and although two of the girls have moved to different cities, and one is now in another country temporarily, we all email each other updates on our lives every few months. A friend I met at my second job moved across the country, but I text with her nearly every week. Yet I almost never hear from another friend I had been close to at the same job.

Recently, The New York Times ran a piece on the challenges of making new friends over a certain age. Although it focuses on people in their 30s and 40s with families, I think those of us in our mid and late 20s struggle with this, too. We also have what the author calls K.O.F.’s — Kind of Friends. There’s the friend you see at happy hours and you catch up with but don’t talk to otherwise. I have friends I met on vacations, some of whom I have seen again, some of whom I haven’t heard from since. There are the college friends that live in my city that I get brunch with once a year and that’s it. I have work friends who know a lot about my personal life and others that don’t know anything about who I really am, and I know little of them. I have friends I was close to for a few months and then our relationship fizzled away, not because anything bad happened, but because of life, and differing interests, and because plainly put, just as in dating, sometimes we’re just not that into each other.

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Figure out what matters to you. Stop.

The simple life

A year ago, I came back from Costa Rica with their mantra of “pura vida!” or the “pure life” in my mind and heart. A few days ago I returned from Italy with much of the same feeling, but in their own words. I learned so much about the slow food movement in Italy, and all about making wine and olive oil and other amazing foods, but that is for another blog post. (Some of you may have already seen my photos.) But out of the food and the culture and the scenery came one concept: that life can be fulfilling and content in the simplest means possible, if you just let it be so, and embrace it with open arms.

When you make apple juice, Stefano, the owner of the agriturismo we stayed at in Southern Tuscany, says it’s like this: “Apples….stop.” When you make meat, it’s “Pig. Salt. Stop.” His simple directions became a recurring theme for our G Adventures tour group, and one that we laughed at, but all took seriously. We all wanted to work for Stefano and live on a farm by the end of the trip. We all wanted the simple life.

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My next leap is all about me

This post was originally posted on Simply Leap, as part of the “My Next Leap” blog series.

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What's Next?

For much of my life, I’ve tried to live up to what I think other people want from me. I’ve tried to please them, make them love me more, like me more, want me more, and need me more.

And I mean everyone — my biological father, teachers, friends, boyfriends, crushes, my dad, my boss … the list goes on.

Much of my four years in DC have been focused on what was next for me as it related to my now ex-boyfriend. We were in love, we were best friends, and we were going to get married. It was as set as it could be, without a ring.

But when push came to shove on next steps, what we wanted for ourselves didn’t quite line up the way that it should for a couple planning to spend their lives together — and I took a big leap into a seemingly dark and deep unknown and ended the relationship.

Nearly eight months later, I’ve thought a lot about who I am and what is next for me. And the most magical and refreshing part of it is that I don’t have to know right now, and that’s okay.

For years I have planned out every step of my life, and coordinated how each person fits into it. But now, as much as I still love using them, I realize that lists and calendars and deadlines don’t make a life, and they don’t create happiness.

And now, I realize that one of the best things about living your life for you – and living it for the NOW — is accepting that not everything will fit together the way you imagine it, and certainly not every person.

That relationship with my ex is only one of the turning points in the last year that has led me to focusing on a happier me.

Some friendships have gone by the wayside, and others have strengthened. Changes at work have forced me to consider what’s important in a job, and my empty-nesting parents’ new beginning across the country have pushed me to dial into my goals and dreams more than ever.

My next leap could be to move, or to stay. It could be to fall in love again this year, or maybe a few years from now. It could be to return to school, start a new job, or start my own business.

My next leap is unknown, uncertain, unplanned, and undetermined.

But I do know that my next leap will be exactly right for me.

These Happy Golden Years

 

Photo credit: ccfa.org
Nov. 11: Always a golden birthday!

Ok, so the title of this blog post is also the title of one of my favorite books in the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” series, but it’s also supposed to be the theme of this period of my life right now, right?

 

I’m young, I’m single, I’ve got a job I enjoy, I’m in a city I love, I’m financially stable. All good, happy, golden things right?

One year ago, as I was preparing my 25 birthdays post before I left on a trip to Germany, I wasn’t quite thinking that my life would be what it is right now. Not that I had grand plans or anything. Or maybe I did. One year ago, I thought I was going to be engaged by now, living with my boyfriend (fiance?), perhaps here in DC, perhaps somewhere else – where I wouldn’t be happy and golden. I remember at this time last year, I was convincing myself that it would work out, that things would all come together, that life was good. I remember talking to my dad on the phone in the airport lounge before my flight to Frankfurt, being reminded to take the time on my trip to reflect about what I wanted for myself in the next year.

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