Category Archives: growing up

Cheering You On

I’ve been thinking a lot about connection lately.

I don’t do well with beginnings. The awkward, stifled, bland part of the relationship, where you’re both searching out your commonalities, weighing the other person to see if your own heart and soul reflects back a bit when you hear them speak.

Being 27 is hard. You’re half a decade out of college, and everyone you know is in a different place—they’re changing careers, longing for a new job, looking for a spouse, skipping the dating scene altogether, announcing their pregnancy online, walking down the aisle, waiting for a sign to get up and move halfway across the country.

They’re doing different things. All of them. And you’re trying to figure out who has friendships on their mind—who wants to grow their community, who wants to have a real, meaningful relationship with the person sitting across from them sipping on iced tea and talking about their week. Someone who wants to skip all the small talk and get down to it.

I haven’t figured it out. Tell me if you do. I’m an introverted, emotional, deep person. I don’t do well with happy hours and bar hopping. I don’t do well with groups of people in loud rooms at midnight. I’m good at one-on-one, let-me-solve-your-problem, let-me-cheer-you-up, let-me-be-your-sounding-board. I’m good at caring. I’m good at listening.

My senior year of high school, a few weeks into the cross country season, I went to this Saturday invitational a few counties over.

We were stretching, touching our toes and hopping around before the start of the race, when a sharp pain shot up my leg. Whenever I started up again, it would inevitably come back after a few minutes. I didn’t run for months. I couldn’t figure it out.

I spent every Wednesday standing on the edge of the grass, face red from yelling, learning every girl and boy’s name as they crossed past me, up the slow hill and around the corner, headed into the cemetery for the second leg of their 3-mile race. It was all I could do. Learning the names of the freshmen, learning what made everyone tick, that’s what got me going.

It still does, even if I don’t have to stand on the sidelines. I’m better that way, face flush from fighting for them, for wanting them to be better, for wanting them to be whoever they so desire. I’m better wishing and hoping and cheering.

Life doesn’t work that way though. You don’t always fall into a purpose. Sometimes, you have to seek it out, ask questions, offer to be there for somebody and run the risk that they tell you to go away. Sometimes, you have to take a tiny step in a scary direction and see what happens.

So here’s to being brave, offering a hand or your heart, or an hour of your time. And here’s to cheering, whether the person on the receiving end knows it or not. There are so many of you out there that I root for, every single day.

Let’s begin. Let’s begin. Let’s begin.

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Next Sunday, I’ll be waking up next to my husband. We’ll rise out of bed before the sun, shimmy into shorts, toss on tees and slip on flip flops. We’ll haul our belongings over our shoulders, roll carry on suitcases across a quiet parking lot, and shuffle into the backseat of my mother’s car. We’ll get on a plane and slide into our row and fall asleep on each other’s shoulders.

I think about that moment. How friends and family and neighbors say, “You’re flying out the morning after your wedding at what time?” How they worry we’ll be tired. How they wonder why we wouldn’t want to fly later, in the afternoon, when the world starts to stir.

There’s a quote from When Harry Met Sally that goes a little something like this: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

That’s how I feel. I’m marrying my best friend. The person who makes me laugh every day. Who holds me when I’ve had a bad day. Who wipes away my tears and kisses my forehead. He’s the first person I want to see in the morning and the last person at night. He calms me, challenges me, and energizes me.

It doesn’t matter if we don’t sleep much. I have never been a sleeper.

In the last few weeks, I have stopped myself midway through filing and recycling papers in my office at midnight. Putting gifts into bags and twisting up tissue paper. Considering the hard water stains on my faucets, and how long it might take to wipe all the surfaces in the bathroom.

I know there isn’t much different about marriage when you’ve been living with the man already in a house you bought months ago. But it feels fresh. It feels new. It feels like a chance to stop and say, “Let me make sure I always listen to you and ask you questions and check in. Let me fold the laundry this time. Let me wash your car.”

It feels like a good reason to scrub every surface of my house, to sweep the floors, to beat the rugs against my wrought iron railings.

We don’t need cobwebs. We don’t need dust. We don’t need dirt. We need clarity—about our hopes, our dreams, our goals, our love, our daily wants and needs. We need to declutter externally before we can feel free and fresh inside.

So my floors are swept. My counters are clean. My heart is open.

Let’s begin. Let’s begin. Let’s begin.

Big Snow, Small Moments

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My future mother-in-law has been asking for a blog post for months.

Last month, I was snowed in for five days, and when I showed up on her doorstep with margarine and eggs, her road still enveloped in feet of snow, she asked again.

On the drive home, I thought about it. Dismissed it. Scratched it away.

Because the truth is, I don’t know what to write about these days. When I started this blog, 5 and a half years ago, I was terribly depressed. I was reeling from a bad breakup. An eating disorder. A tendency to count calories. Or looks from cute boys. Or self-esteem wins.

I was trying to walk out my door each morning and see goodness oozing out car windows and shining on street corners.

Twice a week, I got through simply by showing up to bat. By letting a small ember burn in my belly.

I am a quiet fighter, a determined woman, and I needed to reclaim my life. It was only a matter of time.

In January, I bought my first house. In less than six months, I’ll walk down the aisle to stand in front of a man I can only assume was a gift from God. He is that good. He is that kind. I’ll become indoctrinated into a new family then.

My life is good. My life is full. My life is merry. But after shoveling three feet of snow off my car, my sidewalk, my front steps, my deck, I cannot help but think life is an uphill battle.

People never stop asking you things. When are you getting married? When are you having a baby? Why aren’t you having a baby? When are you having another one, and another one, and another one? Will your baby go to private school or public school? Will you send your baby to an Ivy League university? Will your baby ever get married? Will you be a grandparent?

And you stop along the way, and you wonder when life became this competition. When did life become a series of check check checks?

It’s worth stopping to see the small moments: the cars cleared out front, four hours and three aspirin later, the sea of neighbors hauling snow bit by bit, their front lawns swelling with icy hills.

Your dog being swallowed by the mountains of white on either side as she searches for grass, any grass, to mark her own. Her paws sliding so fast across the slick wood floor that she can’t stop and crashes into the wall chasing after a toy.

The red cheeks of a baby boy, plopped in a tiny sled, bundled head to toe, waiting for a push down the hill.

Those are the moments I caught that weekend. Those are the moments I hope to always hold tight.

Because between each check mark, each finish line, are sweet sweet stories of hard work and laughter, triumph and sadness. And those are the moments we live for. Those are the moments we hold.

Anxiety is just the boy who never called you back.

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Tonight, I feel like I can breathe again.

Years, it’s taken. Years have gone by with my blood racing through my veins, heart pumping fast, stomach muscles clenching.

Anxiety will do that to you. It suffocates all the good in the days – the warm slice of pizza, the smell of hot pavement in the rain, the cool breeze hitting your toes on a hot May afternoon – until all you can feel are the deadlines, the extra calories, the next item on your to-do list, the email you forgot to send.

It wrecks you. It strangles you. It demolishes the joy, and you resent things. People. Stories. Phone calls. Anything that keeps you from tackling your next task, pushing that anxiety down for a split second. Relaxing in the warm sun on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t happen. There is no time to relax. There is no time to feel the cool breeze on your toes.

There are only the minutes ticking away, the ones you’re wasting sitting here, and the ones you could have spent building a better life.

That’s what it comes down to, then. A better life could have been built if only you never settled for a second long enough to eat your dinner at the kitchen table, and lay beneath the covers a beat longer, and let the hot water soothe your neck in the shower. You could have saved more money, gotten a raise, purchased a house. In all the time it took you to read a chapter of your book, every week for months, you could have done so much more. Are you ashamed?

That’s what it feels like. That’s how I felt. For years.

Today, I stepped out of my shower, toweled off, and thought about my calm heart. I rubbed my toes into the bath rug, feeling the soft fabric on my feet, and breathed deeply. Because it’s taken me a month to wring all that negativity out of me, but it’s gone.

I hope you know that we cannot be everything to everyone at all times. We are human, fallible creatures, emotional beings with needs to love and care for others. There may never be time again in my day to tense up at all the bad things, the mistakes, the could-haves, the would-haves, the should-haves. There will be tomorrow, and you should get excited for it, because tomorrow is ripe with energy + possibility. Tomorrow is the day you start letting go. Tomorrow is the beginning of an unchained rhythm in your tightly woven mind. It is the unraveling of irrational thoughts. It is the start of something good, something that makes you want to rub your toes into the carpet just because it feels good.

Tomorrow, you will relearn all the simple pleasures your day surrounds you with, because they are waiting for you, and anxiety won’t ever care about you like that.

Anxiety is just the boy who never called you back. Until, of course, he needed you at three in the morning. It’s just that nobody tells you this: you don’t have to answer your phone. Let it ring.