Two Girls

Currently I am fighting the battle of being two girls. 

One is the girl who I am most hours: when I'm happy, having fun, or when I'm understanding and compassionate. She is who I strive to be.

The other is who I try to hide, cover up, and push away. She is the one who hurts so bad and strikes out violently and cruelly because of it. I am ashamed of who I am when she takes over. 

The latter is the girl who needs the most love, and it is so hard to grab her and love her when I try to pretend she isn't there. The hardest part is when She lashes out with hands and words, because I have to love her then, too, but it's easier to hate her and shove her away again. She needs me the most, but I want her the least.

I have conquered one hill in acknowledging that She is within me, and that she is not evil, she is just hurting. Still, I try to fix her and make her fit into the box of ideals I have created for myself--ideal girlfriend, daughter, writer, worker, friend, Me.

I continually tell myself, "That's not me when I act like that. This is me when I act like this."  

Well, that girl is me and Her actions are Mine, and by telling myself that She's not hurts us even worse. She becomes more strangled and isolated, and when She finally makes an appearance she is angry

How do you take it when someone purposely ignores you, and it's someone that you had a fantastic relationship with just a few weeks ago? It hurts you in your softest parts, and you want to get their attention. You want them to see you and explain themselves. You may even want revenge. This is what I'm doing to a piece of myself, and nothing hurts quite like that. 

Even when I acknowledge all of this, it does not make the path less confusing or painful to follow. I don't know the right choices to make to bring my two selves together as one. Right now I'm just trying to love them both equally, because they are both equally me. 


So Hard

Today has been hard. So hard. 

Katelin and I have been planning for a good friend of mine to come up for two weeks, and she arrives Wednesday the 28th. We found out my aunt and cousin are arriving this weekend last week. Today we found out four other family members are also coming up. 

If you know someone with anxiety, you know how hard these sudden plans become. 

If you know someone with anxiety, you know how hard it is not being able to make it better.

I tried to switch the dates my good friend comes, but her train ticket is bought. 

I am angry, because I can't control this situation.
I am angry, because I can't fix anxiety. 
I am angry, because no matter what I do I can't make everyone happy. 

For now I am trying to just focus on my friend coming up, because that is who we have planned for, but it's hard feeling like I may hurt feelings in the process. 

I can't make everyone happy, and so I'm putting first who deserves to be first at this time. It's just so hard. 

Today is one of frustration, overwhelm, and defeat. 
Some days are like this, and it's so hard.


New Summer Routine

A few weeks back I told Katelin once school was out I was going to make it a habit to do yoga after breakfast and after yoga take Ruby (the dog) for a walk. 

Today we began making this goal a reality. 

I realize that sentence just made this seem way more bad-ass than it may actually be.

Upon waking up this cloudy morning and filling my stomach with my favorite cereal Katelin found us a yoga routine we had never tried, and we set to opening and energizing our bodies. 

We had to stop the thirty minute video after fifteen minutes, because it was so flippin' difficult. 

I was sweating like when I did cross-fit, and my upper-thighs were burning from the squatting positions the yoga video had flowed us into. 

Stopping when I need to, whether it be in yoga, school, or eating a meal, has been extremely hard to learn, and I'm still learning. Little things like this--stopping a video halfway--used to (and sometimes still does) make me feel like a failure. The cause would become that I sucked and was incapable, and I'd never do it again. 

Over time I have reached the point where I know that stopping when my body speaks up means I am strong. Strong enough to hear my body out and accept it's need with love, not frustration. This has taken years to reach, and I still have a long way to go. 

I don't always hear my body, and I don't always listen to it, but when I do I can feel the appreciation radiate through my muscles. It's a happy energy that flows instead of the blech-y feeling that sits in my stomach when I push too far. 

With muscles shaky and legs like jello but revitalized (you know it's good yoga when you have this!) my girlfriend and I took a short break to chow down an apple and take our vitamins. Then we harnessed the pup and hit the neighborhood! 

Let me tell you: a walk can do wonders for your body, your mind, and your soul.
This sounds like something to roll your eyes and laugh at, but on a day with wind ruffling your hair and cooling your skin (not blowing you down the sidewalk) and the last of the blooming flowers sharing their fresh, perfumey smells with you through the air... a walk is like magic. 

We meandered past bunches of lilacs (my favorite), fields of dandelions, and pink and white petals floating from trees. 


I was even so sweet as to pick one of the finest dandelions for this beautiful girl. 

This morning was definitely a healing experience, and I hope you will find as much magic in a walk or morning routine as I have. 


Flat Belly Skinny Thighs

Tonight, as my fingers clack across the keyboard, I prepare for an all-nighter. What does this include? Pinterest. My greatest obsession and inspiration. 

Pinterest is where I discover crazy awesome DIY's like wallpapering your fridge, making an indoor tabletop water garden, or making a butterfly feeder

I also discover super delicious treats to bake, healthy but yummy meals to try, and a multitude of yoga poses I've yet to discover! 

This site rocks. 

Still, scrolling past pin after pin there is a continuous stream of workouts with titles like "flat belly skinny thighs" or descriptions such as "finally, a workout that actually works!" where a girl who was already very thin is now extremely skinny. 

Let me stop here. 

Skinny is not bad. 
Skinny is not ugly. 
Skinny is beautiful. 

So is Average.
So is Fat. 

Skinny is not bad. 

Working out for the sake of being skinny is bad.
For the aesthetic appeal of skinny. 
For wanting to be "beautiful" because skinny is beautiful and fat is ugly. 
For wanting a flat belly and skinny thighs to love yourself or be loved by others; to feel attractive and good about yourself and appear attractive to others; to be happy. 

For so long working out was to compensate for what I ate; to keep my body in check; and to make sure I didn't need to buy new jeans before school started (unless the jeans I was buying were smaller)

It became a battle with my body, not a worshiping of my body. 

I am not saying working out is wrong. 
I'm saying what so many people do it for and what it's posed as is. 

Working out should not be for that "flat belly skinny thighs"; it should be for the energy that roots you to your body and makes you feel invincible. 

And you know what? You don't have to work out to get this feeling.  
Working out does not make you love yourself. 

Can it be an act of loving yourself? Of course.
It can also be an act of hating and punishing yourself. 

These posts that flood websites, TV, magazines, or the streets we walk on are declaring that skinny is beautiful and healthy, while fat is ugly and unhealthy. This is not right nor okay. 

Working out should not be "to get skinny." 
It should be to come together with your body in worship no matter if it's little or big. 
Use it to reinforce self-love practices not self-hate rituals!  

You don't need a gym membership and you don't need to do "this many" push-ups followed by "this many" planks to feel great, to be healthy, and to love yourself. 

You don't need a flat belly or skinny thighs to feel beautiful and wonderful and full of life; to have style and zest; or take stunning pictures you can't wait to post to Instagram or Facebook. 

That's all right inside of you already. 

Those posts on Pinterest that occasionally make me feel like crap can suck my big toe, because I am thin and soft, full of muscle and also jiggle (I find my jiggle quite fun), vibrant, full of love, and a source of infinite awesome-ness. This doesn't change whether I be fat or skinny or whether I sweat it out in a workout every day.  



Tuesday Katelin and I checked out the local ecopark. Uh, it was not what the website made it seem. Not even a little. 

The website boasted of trails galore, a petting zoo, and tens of family activities. The reality hosted a large building with a fake hawk and one trail through a polluted marsh. 

Yes, we were disappointed, but the view was gorgeous, and the trail was home to a multitude of beautiful Wisconsin birds and allowed for a really nice walk. We even spotted a blue heron (though his sought after meal floated belly-up in the water)! 

The bluffs were amazing in the low clouds, and the trees are that wonderful vibrant green that's only around this time of year. 

My favorite was the log so many of the pictures were taken on. 

This may have been a fail in some ways, but it was also a win in others, and there are plenty more adventures on the way this summer! 

Until then, I am off to take my last final of the school year. I could not be more relieved! 


Being Proud

Trees in bloom on my campus.

Another week has reached it's middle, and I am so thankful for what is wrapping up and what is just starting. 

Two finals stand in my way of warm, summer days in bed and even more summer adventures. I'm going to take this time to just be immensely proud of myself, because I don't do this enough. 

My first weekend of college was spent bawling my eyes out until my mom drove back and brought me home. After one night (which I also spent crying) I thought I was going to have to drop out and live at home for at least another year. Yet, somehow, I stuck it out and made the Dean's List my first semester. 

When imagining college, I imagined a huge group of friends, hiking every day, and a lot of coffee. Basically what I saw in facebook posts. The coffee thing was true, but the rest wasn't (and isn't for most). My only friend was my roommate, and while I had people to talk to in class, I never actually made friends. I stuck to myself, in my dorm, and... I was happy. 

This wasn't how I felt at first. The first few beautiful weeks I spent doing homework out on campus lawns watching other students walk by in huge groups. Like the facebook pictures. And I'd be laying there in the grass thinking, "Why isn't that me? How could I not have made one friend?" And yeah, I cried about it. 

What I figured out, with the help of my grandma, is that... that isn't me. I grew up with only a few friends, girls who I still talk to every day and call my best friends. I am not the girl who walks in a huge group or knows a huge group, let alone one that hikes every day. 

And that's okay. 

Though my friends were not at college with me, I talked to them daily. I didn't need to be walking with tens of people across campus to feel close with someone or accepted, but it wasn't easy to figure out. When I finally did, my time on campus was so much more amazing, because I fell into "me" and felt comfortable in it. 

Not only did I become comfortable in this new environment and myself, but I got through some of the hardest courses I think I will ever take (knock on wood) with straight A's. I mean... Go. Me. 

Second semester was another big basket of lessons. I moved back home when Katelin moved in with my mom and I after us being apart for four months. That was a test unto itself seeing as she left Minnesota to return to Kansas the month we started dating. Now, we had been best friends for years, so it wasn't like two strangers dating and then moving across the country, but still: a big challenge. It was one of the hardest things I've been through, but I know it made us stronger. 

Living together *permanently* was another big challenge and is every day, but it also gets easier every day as we learn how to better communicate and live peacefully (or not-so-much) side-by-side. We are rarely apart, which can make for some huge fights, but it means being with my best friend every day and it's a freaking blast. 


This also means I became a commuter, and when Minnesota weather is as insane as it is... this is not an easy task. Let us also not forget I suffered from mono in February. I missed many a class, and believe me, professors don't like that...   

I haven't gotten grades back yet, but already I am proud of what I have accomplished and gotten through. There was a lot of stress this semester, but I worked hard in letting go. I failed a lot, but I conquered a lot. A class I never wanted to take became a life-changer, pushing me onto the path of a Sociology major. That still blows my mind. 

And here I am with two exams marking the end of my freshman year at college. Holy crap, that is crazy. 

I am so. proud. of myself. 

We really do not take enough time to say, "Wow, self, I'm really proud of you." Not even in the times that we deserve it so much. 

So, here I am, taking a moment to look back on everything I've done instead of what I messed up on (we focus way too much on that...) and simply being proud. 


Your Body is Saying, "Listen"

Though you may think you know what your body needs, your body knows better. 
If your body is telling you to sit down and just breathe for a second, listen to it!! 

For a girl who constantly feels the need to be getting something done or moving on to the next thing this is a very hard lesson. It's also a necessary one to follow considering I had mono only a few months ago, and relapses happen.  

This morning I woke up ready to make the day productive! Two weeks worth of laundry lay overflowing next to Geoffrey's dirty hamster cage, which sits next to the closet with a very broken dresser, and in front of that are bags of stuff brought home from the dorm that have yet to be put away. Unfortunately, my body wheezed, and yawned, and forced me to slow down and just focus on breathing. 

An early symptom of mono for me was not being able to catch my breath, like my lungs just didn't have the capacity to expand to their fullest. It reminded me of my asthmatic days, and that makes me nervous. When I have mono relapses an easy signal is the fact that I frequently lose my breath and become extremely low in energy. Maybe my mind says to get cleanin', but my body says to slow down. 

Bodies tell us a lot: what foods are good or bad, when enough is enough, when the weather isn't too pretty, when we need to shut off the computer, and when we need to take a break. This isn't even all of it. If you take a minute to listen, bodies tell us so much! 

The problem is when we forget to listen to the whispers and wait until our body has to scream (which can be very painful as I have experienced) to get our attention. 

It was so hard to listen to my body today, but I'm doing it. This weekend is dedicated to rest and studying in bed. (I'll probably squeeze in some laundry out of desperate need for clothes.) 


Living Like a Butterfly

Picture yourself only having a life of 24 hours.

How would you spend the one day that totals up your life?
Instead of counting your age by years, you count by hours, by minutes.
Maybe you don't even notice time.

How would you treat others?
How would you treat yourself?

You only have a day... 
Do you want to spend that time thinking hurtful things?
Saying hurtful things?
Being filled with negative emotions?

I wouldn't.

So, why do we spend our own short life like that?
Maybe we get 70 years, if we're lucky, but
maybe, like a butterfly, we only get the next 24 hours.

We can't know.

So, how are you going to spend it?
Surrounded by your favorite people?
In your favorite environment?
Wrapped in love for yourself and all the flaws you can't help but notice in the mirror?
Dragging yourself through the day?
Hosting a mind full of negative thoughts?
Carrying a body that is strained under negative energy?

Are you going to fly 
with beautiful wings?
Will you stay in that cocoon forever?

Imagine living like a butterfly,
treating each day like your first and last,
and see how you in turn treat yourself and
the life around you.

Butterflies actually live from a week to a month, some making it nine months! I wrote in the terms of 24 hours, because that's what someone told me when I was really little and astounded me, making me think about having a life that short... 


The End

The end is always the hardest.

I don’t mean this in some deeper-meaning, death way of thinking… I mean it as I’m in the last one-and-half weeks of spring semester, and finals are upon me, and I still have daily homework, and it’s beautiful out, but I’m inside with greasy hair and no deodorant on and…

Is there a store college kids can buy motivation at? Because I ran out two weeks ago. The car is out of gas only a few miles from home, so I’m walking, but I’m also dehydrated.  

Why isn’t the end the easiest part?

I should be carefree at this point, not minding the homework because there’s not much left. Instead it is painful pulling open the file of my ten-page paper, knowing I only have one page left to write. Somehow I end up bopping around on here, on Pinterest, and looking at buying The Walking Dead PC game after one sentence.

At least I can look out my windows, which are all open, and see the trees finally blossoming big green buds. I can enjoy beautiful drives to campus along the river… and I can know that next week I will finally, finally be done for a few months, and refuel.

Until then, I will squeeze out the last drops of intelligence and creativity within my brain and crawl to the finish line.

Is your week moving as slow? If it is or isn’t, I hope it’s as beautiful as mine has been! 


Suck It Up

Do you ever catch yourself sucking your stomach? Even just lying in bed I’ll realize I’m restricting my gut backwards.

On my very best days I’ll catch myself doing it!

It doesn’t feel good, but after years of self-esteem issues (especially surrounding the stomach area) it’s become automatic.

Flat bellies are in now, right? That’s what the magazines say, the TV shows say, and the gym-babes walking down the street say.

And according to this notion, the rest of us should join a gym, start a new diet, and double up on crunches so we don’t have to suck it in anymore.

With summer and bikini season approaching I say I’m done with that idea. If you have a flat belly, then you rock that flat belly, because that is your belly. But if you, like me, are softer and stick out a little (heck, maybe you stick out a lot! Love it up!) then we’ll rock ours, too.

I’m so much more comfortable and relaxed when I just let my soft belly go where it goes. When it’s not held back it feels good, and I’ve finally been able to look in the mirror with loving eyes and realize it looks good, too.

When I see a girl on the street and wonder what it’s like to rock that tank top without a thought, I remind myself that I can do it too. I just have to stop sucking in, because when I suck my belly in, I suck myself in and restrict me in that moment. It sucks… literally!

Just recently I’ve begun picking out shirts that feel and look great: the ones that my belly can remain free of restrictions and that don’t cause me to second-guess my wardrobe choice on the way out the door. If your closet doesn’t hold items like this, then you deserve to change that.

We deserve to have clothes that make us feel great; that make us feel gorgeous as we walk down the sidewalk. We deserve to love where our body hangs and shifts and feels a little softer than the rest of us… that is your body; that is you.

Summer is coming, and this is the perfect time to say, “Hey. I love that swimsuit, and I love this body, so I will wear both proudly, and fully enjoy myself.”

You’ll feel and look more beautiful, I promise. 


You are Wonderful

When you say something you regret—to your mom, sister, boyfriend/girlfriend, stranger on the street—know that you are still wonderful.

When you mess up for the third, fourth, or tenth time—on an exam, in your personal endeavors, in your faith, in your relationship, at your craft—you are still wonderful.

If you think you have lost everything about yourself, screwed up everything that you had going, and are now in the abyss of nothing and nowhere—you are absolutely still wonderful.

I’ve found that it’s so easy for the nasty voice in my head to speak louder than the sweet, loving voice. The sweet voice whispers constantly, but without encouragement she stays quiet and off to the side, while her nasty counter-part screams and throws winning punches. The nasty voice is the one I tend to give in to, nodding and replying, “You’re right.” She gets louder.  

The nasty voice finds new, sharper ways of wording what I’ve started believing about myself. Some days she may comment on my body, some days on what a horrible person I am, or how I suck at being a Christian.

The sweet voice wavers in the background pleading me to hear her, too: “You’re still wonderful.” But this is too easily ignored or missed in the static.

The last few years I have really tried to nurture the sweet voice more than the nasty one, but it’s hard. Some weeks are better than others, but I have to remember that even when I fall back into nurturing the nasty thoughts, I am just as wonderful as yesterday or last year.

We are taught to think of others as wonderful and find something admirable in them. We should see the great things in our friends, family and peers, and nurture that in them, but what about ourselves?

Encouragement and love for others is so important, but don’t forget about you. You’re important, and you deserve your encouragement and love. Even when you’re a downright monster. (I’ve had a few of those times this week)

Those are the times when your love is especially needed. That’s when you need the reminder of you are wonderful the most.

Though I may act like a monster, I am not a monster. I am wonderful.