Because you might need to read this today…

I know my blog has been a happy place for a while now, when I do make these fleeting posts. But, I know, life isn’t always a happy place. And that is precisely why I’m so grateful for these days, for these people, for this sunshine, to feel loved – by family, by friends, by new people who bring such light into life with just their refreshing presence. I feel like my appreciation for this time, for these days comes from the times when it wasn’t exactly there…and it’s not that the love wasn’t around me, but you can’t always feel it. It wasn’t an absence, it was more of an invisible barrier between me and all that positivity. And sometimes darkness creeps in, and it’s so much harder to see the light that’s peeping from under the cracks. It’s a battle to fight the inner demons that so badly want you to just give in. I know what those times are like when it’s hard to remember the days that have a light an airy weight in living, laughter that flows freely, and a clear mind. And oh those battles are so difficult to fight, but I’ve been thinking lately, (especially over the past few days with the loss of Robin Williams and the social media world abuzz with mental health discussions) about the feeling of exuberance that washes over me when the curtain is lifted and light shines again after times like those…

I guess I just didn’t want to keep letting these thoughts float around in my head without sharing them. How everyone is fighting their own battle each day, and you might not have any idea what those around you are dealing with on the inside, and they might not have an idea what you’re dealing with either…but you’re not alone. And there is hope. And there is light.

A few years ago when I was doing a series on the blog called “Spend Less, Give More” spotlighting my favorite give-back organizations, I featured one called To Write Love On Her Arms. (You can see my original post, here.)  There’s a shirt my parents gifted me with the following quote from Jamie Tworkowski,

 

This past week I’d seen the quote from Rob Bell on Twitter: “It is as if the smallest amount of light is infinitely more powerful than massive amounts of dark.” which just instantly resonated with me, and I’ve thought about these words each day since then. When I get to my dark place my coping mechanisms for life usually have to do with writing, reading, prayer, music, and movies. Art. Creating. But what else I’ve found? Big changes happened to my life when I started letting people in. When I started saying yes, when I embraced who I was and I met people who not only accepted me for myself, but appreciate what makes me, me. Coffee, putt-putt, scary movies that make me squeal in the theatre, hanging out with a friendly acquaintance that could turn into a great friend, phone conversations that make you feel love despite distance, spontaneity…openness, that vulnerability can be so so worth it in this life. We do need other people, and when we find the right people, man it’s like more lights turn on in the world.

I guess what I’m getting at here, is that if I felt on my heart strings that I needed to put these words into the universe, than there was probably a reason for that. Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of, or kept secret, or to write-off. You know how you can scroll through someone’s instagram and it’s all happy pretty stuff? (Here I’ll point out my own: flowers, sunsets, icecream, smiles, puppies, music festivals,…all the good stuff.) But in between all the really great little moments that make life so darn beautiful – the soulful conversations, the forehead kisses, the friendly “good morning, how are you?”s from people that you encounter each day, the joy that comes with singing along to your favorite song with the windows rolled down and a breeze on a summer day, a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven, a text message that puts a smile on your face, bear hugs, hand written mail, tired lungs and legs from a long run outside, laughing ’til your stomach hurts, cotton candy colored skies…in-between all of these absolutely wonderful things can be some really rough times. Days when your friends feel far away, or you don’t feel like getting out of bed, or listening to your favorite song, or really doing much of anything…They might not show up the way the good stuff does on our social media networks, but there’s no avoiding that the twisty-thought days are there.

So I guess I’m saying, don’t be afraid to talk about it, don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed about it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help (resources)…Sending so much love and hugs into the universe right now…

National Hopeline Network: 1.800.SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1.800.273.TALK (273-8255)

 

Ohh oh we’re halfway there…

Well, look at that? How many times have I sat in a room, somewhere in this state thinking about the future? I mean, there’s only so much thinking you can do. Only so much preparation. At some point, it just comes. The future arrives and you’re in it. Right in the middle of it, whether you’re ready for it or not. So, I’m just going to remember how all those other times I didn’t really have much of an idea what was ahead of me then either. The summer when I got that envelope in the mail in Inverness, telling me about who my roommate would be in the all girls dorm at FSU. Freshman year trying to figure out housing for the next year, thinking maybe I’d live in New Hall with my big sister? And then getting a spot in the sorority house and matched with a girl who I wasn’t very close with at the time. Look where that brought me? Two years of an awesome roommate, a lifelong sister and friend. Summer after sophomore year having one of the most amazing experiences of my life studying abroad in London. Living in a “flat” with one of the most amazing girls I know, who would have known then that little lady would be the one to inspire me to run years later? Junior year, after a trying time, and trying to figure out an internship for summer and all kinds of other weird stuff you try to pretend you’re planning going into senior year of college – and then look! I wound up in the senior annex living with another sister would become one of my greatest friends. That whole house brought me all these friendships I might not have stumbled upon otherwise. Friendships that would last years later. A lifetime later. And then when I left Tallahassee and came back, there Camille was again to offer me a place to stay. Then I found Alex and who’d have thought answering a random Craigslist ad would bring me to the position that it did? Another “lifer” friend, an amazing housemate, and it’s been a good run. I don’t know what’s next. I have no idea. But one way or another it’ll work out, and probably, most likely, I think I’d even bet on it that whatever’s next…it’ll be more amazing than the slightly in the back of my head kind of panicky me could imagine. I just have to get there. And I will. Because pretty soon there won’t be a choice, it’ll just…be. But until then! Onwards and upwards right?

Bonnaroo Is My Neverland (Part One)

(I swear I clicked publish on this the other day, and it didn’t go anywhere! So since this draft is just sitting in my dashboard, I figured I may as well go ahead and share it now…at least the beginning.)

I know, I have been a horrible blogger in recent days, but in my defense I have absolutely been all over the place. So, you know how I’ve gone to several concerts lately? When I was at the Phoenix show back in May in Orlando, I made a new friend. I got his number because he wanted to buy my Postal Service ticket at Hard Rock a month later. We kept in touch over this time, becoming fast friends, an epic long phone conversation etc. One of the first things we talked about at House of Blues with people surrounding us in the crowd was Bonnaroo. At that time it was a distant dream, a someday bucket list check. (Because the original group I knew who wanted to go, then had a wedding to attend and bailed. And you know? I’ve planned all these other quick trips lately, and it didn’t seem as feasible anymore.) So, I would stare at the line-up online and we would discuss hypothetical, if you were going what would you see and compare scenarios. Then I went to Athens, and we were in this cool little bar and all of a sudden Bonnaroo came up. And we were drinking, so of course excitement escalated. One of the guys had been the previous year, so he was completely gung ho, and in joking I was like hey! tickets aren’t sold out yet, we could still go. So he started corralling people, and being like wanna go to Bonnaroo?! Of course, they thought we were crazy. Then a few more weeks passed, and it got closer and closer and the itch got stronger, and I was like hey! we could seriously still do this. I weighed the pros and cons of irresponsibility? How crazy was it, to up and go to Tennessee with like less than 48 hours notice? And some people spend a whole year prepping for this, and I was gonna do it in the window of time after work in two days? But I kept thinking of two Christmas breaks ago when I got invited to the Keys and I turned the offer down, thinking I can’t just run away from work like that (even though I had vacation time.) Then I sat at work with absolutely nothing going on during the holidays and got sent home early and I was kicking myself because I could’ve been on a boat in paradise! So, I vowed I wouldn’t let opportunities like that pass me by again. And here it was staring me right in the face. Plus, then James threw out the:

“You’ll never be in your 20s again! You’ll turn 30 next year if you don’t go to Bonnaroo!”

Which were like the magic words.  Hello, he’s right! I’d been saying the whole time, I wanna go while I’m young! The years are going by, and you’re not always at the place in life where you can just throw crap in a bag and road trip hours away on short notice to spend four days camping and concert watching on a farm in the middle of nowhere. (Think of all my married friends with babies?!) So. I posted a Facebook status inquiring about adventure partners, and one of my original adventure partners from growing up responded – Kaela. And she was in. So, she just had to work out the details but since I knew it was a giant possibility, I couldn’t sleep that night. I knew if we were going, we’d have to be prepared in some way so I started scouring the Bonnaroo Survival Blogs for tips and advice, and what to pack. Plus, James started passing on his Veteran knowledge, and a few other friends who’d attended in the past. That night, while I told my roommate there was a chance we’d go, but I didn’t wanna get my heart set on it – she was so super encouraging. So I had James with the you’re only in your twenties once spiel, and I had myself with my encouraging, no day but today story! Then Alex, who pulled out her photo album from the Woodstock anniversary concert, and her tales of awesomeness, and she was like YOU GUYS HAVE TO DO IT! So basically my heart was set on it, so there I was 4am, reading blogs on my phone while I couldn’t sleep. The next day Kae was like yeah, we need to do this – we have to do this. So, we bought tickets. Then that night, they sold out. So obviously, it was meant to be. That night, and the following day were a whirlwind of trying to pack and scrounge up items we would need (and I’ll probably do a blog post on a crash course of how to pack for Bonnaroo in 48 hours,) which included a zillion trips to Walmart/Target/Sams Club, lots of photo text messaging, and pure adrenaline that broke concentration on anything else.

Wednesday night, (I had returned to the house for a Voice watching break, and to scan the inventory) before I ran back out again. I sat surrounded by clothes and miscellaneous camping items, and food scattered throughout the living room, with re-runs of Freaks and Geeks playing in the background because why not? This was too exciting of a situation to be stressed, but there’s always an open door for some giggling in my life, and so what if I know that series by heart? Kae was driving from St.Augustine, and got there late. We hadn’t seen each other since November of 2010, so of course we needed a little catch up time! (Though we were gonna have a 7.5 hour drive to take care of that in a few hours.) But first things first – beast mode with the packing! Successfully threw four days worth of stuff in my car. Then we chatted, then we nodded off for about three hours, and then grabbed some last minute things from the house (including coffee of course,) and hit the road! We had a few stops, gas stations and bathrooms. A random exit in Georgia where we happened upon a Walmart, picked up some supplies, and later we stopped somewhere outside of Atlanta, (I think Marietta maybe who knows) and went to that Willy’s burrito place? One last hot meal in air conditioning! Yeahhh.

We were getting kind of anxious as we followed the live tweeting of #BonnarooTraffic and expecting to be sitting in the lines for hours. We might have played a little chinese fire-drill off some abandoned looking mountainous exit, so we could trade drivers and neither of us would throw up in the high altitude condition swap. Plus, we got mixed directions of driving to Coffee County High School to get our wristbands, or to just go to the tollbooth. I called customer service again, they sent us to the toll booth. We’d both read the warnings of not entering the grounds without a full tank of gas, but we were kind of out of luck on that note, not realizing exit after exit would be closed with cops guarding the ramps! So, all of a sudden there was the flashing sign and it was time to turn off! So, on we went with a half tank. And whoulda thought?

We got in, in like less twenty minutes! Though watching vehicle searches was definitely entertaining. (I have a feeling some of the people wandering the parking lot with vests on and no shirt weren’t actually volunteers, but just wanderers.) When it was our turn not much happened other than them throwing all the tampons out of my glove compartment everywhere, and some koozies from the console? Realll intense search, guys. Then we went to this trailer, got our wristbands and first they didn’t activate so we had to go back, THEN we got sent to park in the GA camping section! Dun dun dun! Since people had gotten there on Wednesday before the gates even opened we were thinking this parking situation could get interesting, but the Bonnaroo Guru was correct in telling us that it kind of works out for the later crowd because they get parked closer to Centeroo. We were thinking we were gonna be out miles away on that 50 minute walk (but next to the $1 grilled cheese.) Literally we were like a ten minute walk away in Pod 6 Camp Zoolander (holla!) right next to an RV lot. Our campsite neighbors were a couple from North Carolina who go to college in Boone, and then a crew of kids from Hudson, Florida (land of the youth soccer tournaments down in Central Florida near Tampa.) And a large group of southern kids behind us who were a constant source of amusement with their stories.

We started setting up our campsite, and of course in came rain. But we were smart and went ahead and got the canopy up, so we could work under it. Good thing Kaela is an expert outdoorswoman (first time setting up a tent,) or I would have been laying on a tarp on the ground with the tent in a pile. We got it all set up in less than thirty minutes, and bam! We were done. So we changed clothes, checked out our surroundings, and went on our way to check out Centeroo (where all the stages and tents are.)

Then the true adventure began. I don’t think we knew what we were in for, (and I mean that in the best way possible.)

Probably Why I Feel Tired

It doesn’t seem to matter what phase of life we’re in, middle school, high school, college, post-college – things don’t change that much. (I would say people are the same, but I know deep down we’re really not or that would be so boring!) By this I mean, I don’t think it matters how simple something starts off as –  people always seem to be looking for more. If something begins on a kind of platonic level, I always find that the simplistic, basic, normal level of things doesn’t seem to last long. Maybe I give off some kind of vibe I am unaware of, but this is has happened my whole life. (Until you know you meet a person that you want to have a non-platonic relationship with, and they don’t see it the same way. So it goes, right?) But really. I mean, why can’t a straight guy and a straight girl just be friends without some kind of underlying expectation? I for one, have always operated using The Butterfly Test. Sure I’ll hang out with someone with an open mind, but if I don’t feel it, if it’s not there it’s the truth when I say I’m not going to miraculously develop feelings for you later.

Maybe I need to just start posting Craig’s List Missed Connection ads. Would it be totally creepy to write something like “Hey! Bearded guy running down Thomasville Road on Tuesday around 630pm in front of the bike shop. I liked your pace, wanna run sometime?” Yeahhh, and that’s probably how you meet the serial killers…

I’m driving home from work, rambling to the ever-faithful listener, my mom about how maybe I just don’t like anyone? (Not like as a human being, but in a romantic context.) Then I see someone running down the street and blurt out how they’re pretty cute. And of course, this is better than just some stranger you see in a parking lot somewhere because I can already deduct that we have running in common. Then about .7 seconds later I see my ex-boyfriend pulling out of a local park. Surprise! That seems very typical of life, and the weirdness of the way things happen.

All of my dreams this week seemed to revolve around weddings in one way or another, which is completely strange. Sure I have two to attend coming up (one at the end of May, one at the end of June,) but really? Why so on the brain? Earlier in the week I dreamed that I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding for the second time. I didn’t know the groom. It was a chaotic ordeal. I felt really uneasy about the whole thing. Then I was talking to a friend about her own wedding in the dream, that I was in, which didn’t happen in real life. (You know like your subconscious creates fake memories?) Then last night I dreamt that I was wandering around in my compression socks (they’re obnoxiously hot pink and bright) and I wasn’t even running which was so weird, and I was apparently looking for a wedding date? I got set-up with one of my male friends who is gay, at the same time as I got set-up with a stranger. It was just, weird. Completely weird. I woke up kind of disoriented.

It all makes it sound like I really have relationships on my mind, but honestly I don’t. You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Friendship. I have some incredible friends in my life, but they are scattered everywhere. Literally. So, I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. (I’m working on this because money is just money, and who ever knows how much time they have? And I don’t want to be sitting here saying “I wish we could’ve hung out just one more time.” Though don’t we always wish that when the inevitable happens?) But really time goes by and as we get older some of my friends are settling down into a different life. Getting married, having babies, real jobs that mean you can’t just take off days and days of work for some exotic spontaneous trip…And it makes me ache a little because although in some people’s worlds it doesn’t seem to work like this, in mine it has – it feels like as these life changes happen, new boundaries are drawn, and I feel confined to small little boxes in each relationship. And I get it. There’s an appropriateness to things, certain parts of life have to change because we aren’t who we used to be when these changes come. And most of my friendships have always had this weird dynamic, a certain energy that buzzes in the air, that’s heavy with an intimacy not of the physical type, but in the connection – the depth of the heart. And I know these can’t carry on when others are added to the equation.

But lately, I just miss what it’s like to pile in a car and drive around, adventuring. I miss cramming on a couch having movie nights, (or Olympic nights, or Degrassi nights haha.) I miss sprawling across beds staring at the ceiling, talking about life. The future a fuzzy cloud of uncertainty in front of us, imagining the possibility. I miss sitting on kitchen floors with my feet tucked under me, giggling at everything and nothing. Feeling like in that moment, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I miss going on walks in the still of the night, only the light of the stars shining down, and the things that only go spoken in the safety of the dark. I miss making pancakes at random times of the day. I miss the way that music sounds different when you’re listening to it with someone else, as it fills the space between you in a room.

There are certain people who just know me like no one else. The silence is comfortable. The laughs are the deep kind that make your stomach hurt. Lately those relationships just feel far away, and like they’re slipping through my fingers. I know the tone changed here, but the thing is I’m not really looking for what people probably think I am. It’s not about boyfriends or romance. It’s that sense of companionship, a partner, sharing experiences with people who get it. This is the stuff I’m carrying around all day. It makes me smile because I’d have to know the happiness of such moments, to miss them but it gives me heavy boots to feel the weight of it, too.

Quality not Quantity

The Liberation of Max McTrue

Saw this quote on Tumblr (the image isn’t mine either,) yesterday and I just had to share. I know sometimes when I post things like this people think you’re looking for attention, or that you’re trying to say something else, but exactly what it says right there – is such a huge truth of life. I have had a certain loneliness creeping in lately. Sometimes it subsides, and sometimes it sneaks up on me and lingers with a strong force. I would much prefer alone time, to hanging out with superficial people I don’t feel connected to. I have some pretty incredible friends in my life, and I just have to suck it up and deal with the fact that the majority of them don’t live in the same zip code as me. It only makes our time together that much more special. The words that arrive in the mail, so dear to me. Our phone calls, precious. I think about them all the time, and I know they think of me. But sometimes you just want to drive down the road and plop on someone’s couch. Tell them what’s on your mind. Watch a common favorite movie or show, sharing some ice cream. Sometimes, it’s nice to have an adventure partner, or someone to have catch-up chats with over coffee. The thing is, it doesn’t matter if I’m doing these things with someone – if they’re not the right people.

Happy Birthday, Friend!

It is definitely a season of birthdays. Yesterday marked one of my oldest friend’s 25th. Charlie and I met at Sunday School of First Baptist Church when we were just in pre-school. We grew up together and eventually we moved to a neighborhood down the street. Somewhere along the way a core group of four of us who’d been friends since kindergarten coined ourselves as the pirate club, and it stuck. Too many days to count were spent hanging out at his house, exploring in the backyard, going on canoeing adventures, night time golf cart rides, climbing trees – all the good stuff. We’d play ping-pong (well, the guys liked to play death pong and I would just photograph those moments, ha.) We’d head over to Ocala to wander around, eat at Moe’s and hang out doing nothing. We watched a katrillion basketball games together. Night swims til we were all shriveled up, or the guys would practice with their scuba gear which was always a laugh. He let me watch Degrassi on his big screen TV and would sometimes pretend to be interested to humor me. There are plenty of things we don’t see eye to eye on – everything from politics to our favorite college football teams, which allowed room for plenty of heated “discussions,” – still our friendship thrived nonetheless. This guy was always on the ready for a spontaneous adventure, no matter the day or time. And a lot of times I got to select the soundtrack for these outings. The memories aren’t full of just good times, but the harder moments of life that you don’t see coming either.  Those are some of the standout memories I have, the rough days when we’re reminded just how short life really is. The deep conversations about life, and growing up, the future. After several years of being spread out over states during college, and some of post-college life, the entire pirate crew is back in Florida again. Charlie lives in Tampa with his wife now, so it’s nice that we’re all in the same state again even if we’re overdue for a reunion. Here’s to the start of a wonderful year for a wonderful friend!

And for fun, here are a few photos from over the years!
Twenty years ago, the first day of kindergarten!
Playground fun in high school.
A kindergarten reunion at a bonfire, with Paul!

Graduation!
Pirates for life! (summer before going away to college.)
Pirates reunited in North Carolina at Charlie and Mia’s engagement party!
Giving us a campus tour of Wake Forrest (senior year.)

Happppy Birthday, Mandy!

Alright, as if you haven’t been able to tell yet I have a bit (understatement) of an obsession with my fabulous sisters, and today we’re celebrating another one’s birthday! One of my sweetest, dearest, favorite friends is turning 25 today! I’m wishing a Happy Happy Birthday to Mandy! If you’ve been keeping up, you know that I’ve been blessed with some pretty awesome roommates over the years (Lizzi in London, Camille in the annex,) but my first sister roommate was Mandy. We moved into the house together our sophomore year, and lived there again our junior year. (Plus, you could just go ahead and consider her Camille and I’s third roommate senior year.) As I’ve mentioned before, I am quite aware I was not the easiest person to live with. I’m kind of messy, can have some pretty intense mood swings, she might have had to listen to “Tracks of my Tears,” “Piano Man,” and “Tiny Dancer” about three thousand times, and never gave me too much of a hard time about my enthusiasm for Kyle XY. Junior year fall was a “little” stressful with my unexpected term serving on exec. and the constant knocks on our door at three olock in the morning to tell me that the kitchen was having electrical problems, they couldn’t get ice out of the machine, or  oops locked out can you call the locksmith? (I’m telling you, when these random requests stop life’s normalcy feels weird for a while.) This girl is amazing though, she’s smart and funny and has one of the kindest hearts you’ll ever know! She’s a loyal friend, and she sticks by through thick and thin. We have been through so much together, and I have been so unbelievably blessed by our friendship. (I am super super excited because she’s coming to town in two weeks for homecoming YES!) I have countless memories with this girl. Some of the things that come to the forefront of my mind pretty quickly are our old days in the house, it felt like summer camp all the time. We built blanket forts in our room, and would stay up all hours whispering about endless things from our bunk beds until one of us fell asleep. We watched ridiculous amounts of Nancy Grace and news coverage on bizarre events. We tutored at Grace Mission together, and took our mentees on little outings. We road tripped to the beach and Thomasville. She’s the one who’d call the cops when my phone gets stolen in the middle of the night, or brings me crackers at four am when I’m complaining from the other side of the room that I feel like death from our cinnamon drinks. I think about the excitement of her engagement, or the night she asked me to be her MOH. Screaming through a scary haunted house, the katrillion number of times we got ready for events together – always ready to throw on a crazy costume. What’s crazy to think is that we’ve been friends for about six years now, and the amount of bonding we’ve packed into that time. I’m wishing this special person a very happy birthday and year full of great things to come!

One of our first roomie pics!

Pre-littles for all of us 🙂

Oh you know, we just had Stacia help us make matching lady bug dresses, haha.

Omgsh, such a fun night – Jacki’s Waltz and epic evening at Chubbies. Also the night we jumped in the fountain and I drowned that poor phone.

Winter Formal Sophomore  year!

Spring Break in the Keys sophomore year.

Tiffany and Gary’s wedding!

Jacki’s wedding in St.Augustine

This one was on our door’s bulletin board for a while

Girl’s beach weekend

Pier Park in Panama City

GREEK meet and greet 🙂

Mandy’s 21st purple Princess 🙂

Another favorite…some random biker bar in Oveido, getting invited to birthday parties…

Oh just filling in on phones at the hotel pre-Carly’s wedding

Rachel’s waltzzz

Oh a fave moment…just chatting on the phone at the Inn Between.

Camille’s waltz!

Toga time!

Beth’s Tutu 22 Waltz

Our awesome shirts we borrowed from Eryn, haha

Rockstar social, hence the ridiculous outfits…

Senior year semi-formal

Island exploring adventure on the cruise

Senior year spring break cruise with our new FSU almuni friend at Senor Frogs.

Shelby’s waltz!

We were sad it was our last social!

Senior bar crawl night!

Spring Formal senior year! (Our last one :()

Senior banquet night

Our last night before graduation, hanging out at the Inn Between…

Finally riding the electric golf cart, bucket list check haha

Rehearsal dinner night!

Beautiful bride on her wedding day! (I was honored to be her maid of honor.)

Deb ball fun!

Reunited for a little summer visit!

Hanging out in the back room at Water Works on a fall visit

Girls weekend last spring!