Traveling: Awkward & Inconvenient

Traveling is work. It can be frustrating, terrifying, lonely, exciting and everything else. You forget to eat, and struggle to sleep, and try to figure out how to be brave in between. You’re dependent on a language that isn’t yours. You check and double-check and hope you get on the right train, going the right way, at the right time, to see the right city.

And here’s the thing, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you don’t get on the right train or go to the right hotel or eat the right food. Sometimes you end up at the wrong place with too much luggage and not enough sleep and it’s all you can do to not sit on the curb and cry. Sometimes you get sick in a German hospital in the middle of a Turkish city or miss your flight in a Spanish airport. There are times when you can’t figure out how to turn the lights on in your hotel room so you use the mini-fridge light as your lamp. You rent a car, you get lost, and it’s hours before you reach your destination.* You do your best, and your best is awkward, and tired, and so unhelpful.

So those travelers who are “good” at this whole thing? They’re constantly learning, pushing, living with the awkwardness, loneliness, unsettling moments, and embracing them as part of the journey. They get lost and sick and scared, but they realize that’s part of the trip—heck, it’s part of life—and it’s reason enough for a passport.

The gift of the trip is the opportunity to do those things that terrify us but remind us we are strong and brave and connected to this life. So that is why I love the journey. It’s why I’ll say yes again, and again, and again.

It is why I took a train to Blair Atholl, a place I’d never been and knew nothing about. I walked. I crossed the bridge. I made my way onto a path, through the trees, down to the riverbed. It was my secret place, nestled in a secret town that I may never see again. I leaned against the rocks, listened to the water run by, breathed in the warm air. I watched the light move across the sky, falling behind the green trees, raining light everywhere.

I stood on my tip-toes to see over stone walls and set my camera on the faces of white furry sheep. I did my best not to trespass, reading signs, distracted by everything, excited at the new. I stopped for tea and watched the green hills become silhouettes as the evening started.

Sometimes I need to see simple, hear quiet, remember beautiful things are also part of the adventure. There’s that balance, that push and pull, between rest and work, noise and silence, busy and still, and I think I got closer to it somewhere in Scotland, somewhere in the Highlands.

*All examples based on real life experiences. Sorry if you had a higher opinions of me and my travel companions. 

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Dating & Not Dating & Being Okay

I dated, then I didn't, then I sort of did, then I completely did, and I currently am. I can count on one hand the people who have had front row seats into the mess of me during this time of life. They tell me it’s been a fun ride.

This whole dating thing—the saying yes, the saying no—can be part of moving forward.

We’d been dating for two weeks. We were in a parking lot, late at night, sitting on a curb, and I was sobbing as I said, “I can’t. I’m not ready. It’s really me. I’m not ready. There’s nothing you can do.”

If you’re wondering if you read that right, let’s be clear: I lost my shit in a parking lot while breaking up with a guy. I didn’t want to hurt feelings or cause pain so I cried and cried and cried and knew for certain I wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t ready to date. I was still working through emotions from that big breakup. They were spilling over into other areas; they needed my attention.

In the future, I would need to come across as something slightly more—I don’t know—stable. I needed to get my shit in order.

I thought about why I wanted to date. Did I really want to try? Was there a purpose? The goal wasn’t marriage or kids or that white picket fence. That is not me, and it is finally okay. So what what was it? Why all the effort?

I realized it’d be nice to have a partner—a someone to share with, and be with, and have space in-between. I wrestled with the needs and the wants and the not-quite-understanding-it-all. I was okay alone, and I was comfortable with the risk. I took a deep breath and finally dove in.

I’d tried a few times—this and that and not—and I kept waiting until I thought I could do it. I said yes. I meant it. I was completely petrified, a little excited, mostly nauseous, and a hilarious mess of mistakes. I wanted to be all in, both feet, learning, trying, being brave.

I figured out a few things about myself. I wrote them down. I met some awful people. I met some good souls. I said “yes” and “no” and “let’s give it a shot.” I worked hard to be quick when things didn’t fit and I tried to stay calm when they did. I realized sometimes we should stay strangers, sometimes we should be friends, and sometimes we should date, it’s the respectable thing to do.

So, I'm in it, and making mistakes, and making progress, and growing in all the good sort of ways. I’m learning to say what I need and what I want, and realize the answers can come slowly. I still get scared and uncomfortable and quiet, but I know the signs and push, and try, and talk.

This whole dating thing—the saying yes, the saying no—it's been a part of moving forward.
And I rather like the guy I’ve been dating for the past year now.
So, there's that.

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photo credit: deathtothestockphoto.com


Crossing the Street

I landed in Scotland, and now that I'm here, I'm doing my very best to not get hit by a car.

I'm still adjusting to the timezone, and the Scottish accent, and drivers on a different side of the road, but I really do love this place. I'm in a small pocket of Glasgow, near the West End, in a proper flat with a Scottish woman and her 8-year-old daughter. The city is beautiful in an understated way.

I’ve been walking a lot, drinking tea, thinking, working. I’ve been making time to look around. I’ve been reading, writing, eating. I’ve been trying to be present. Ugh. Being present.

Know what? It’s incredibly uncomfortable to be present. To be present is to acknowledge how you have not-arrived, how there’s still so much work, how you want to create art but sometimes it’s really just crap. Yea, being present, even when you’re in Scotland, isn’t really glamorous.

I’ve made myself think about how next weekend I'm turning 30. I’m asking the annual questions: Where do I want to be? What needs to change? Who am I becoming? Do I want to live in San Francisco in a really expensive apartment?

Birthdays often create this kind of question-entire-life thinking. I hope I’m getting closer to the answers, closer than I’ve been before, but a part of it is scary, and overwhelming and really really annoying. It’s annoying in a way that won’t let go. In a way where you realize what needs to be done and you’re the one who needs to do it.

It's scary in a way that reminds you of the past, the painful ugly past, and you want so badly to not live there anymore. I often worry that I might, that I might just find myself accidentally in a pit, reliving the most painful experiences because I didn't learn, because I didn't see it coming, because I let my guard down.

Vulnerability is a hard thing. It's pushing through the fear, past the guard, and learning to say "I trust you. Will you listen? Can I share?" It's hard and scary and uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable to sit in the present: it's acknowledging what was and how it's over, while realizing there's a future, and it's unknown.

So, yes, being present this week has been scary and overwhelming, and annoying, but I’d be lying if I said this growing space wasn’t also a tiny bit exciting. There’s a part of this that I’ve never done before. I’ve never seen 30. I never imagined this far ahead. There’s some excitement in that—potential, I guess.

So, somedays I’ll do my best, and somedays I’ll completely fail, but I suppose that’s life, or my life, and I can live with that.


Saturday Shout Out

I read the best e-book the other day by Allison Vesterfelt; I've been reading her blog ever since. Check out Writing to Find Yourself

I've got this One Day song on repeat, with Mess is Mine right behind it. Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass is a video I'm better for watching.

For those in the social scene, say hello to Stephanie Sharbear (@THELOUDMOUTH) on Twitter and Mark Wickens (@markwickens) on Instagram.

I woke up wanting to make lasagna, so I made this veggie version. Good news: it was delicious.

Needed blog-help and called Bobbi. She's the bee's knees. Also, I think we should bring back the phrase "bee's knees."

I'm a fan of Jeff Goins and his writing class Tribe Writers. Like, whoa. It's getting my rear in gear and I'm writing daily.

I like Brooke's I'll-travel-the-world-if-I-want-to attitude. She writes over at World of Wanderlust.

So did you find anything good on the Internet this week? Shoot me an email. Leave a comment. I'm a fan of serious Internet wins. They're great for procrastinating. Now I'm off to apartment hunt in the most expensive city in the United States. *hangs head, walks away slowly*

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Photo credit: deathtothestockphoto.com


Everyday Life Fail

Sometimes I fail at life. Sometimes I’m so incredibly “over it” that it’s all I can do to power through the day, focus, form sentences, drive, be civil. It’s as if at sundown I should be granted an award because I didn’t hurt anyone. No casualties, human race. You’re welcome.

I’ve had a day or two of these recently. Let me tell you how it goes.

I wake up in the dark. I don’t bother to turn the light on. It’s not really going to get any better with a lamp, is it? So I start with everything barely in focus, walking around in the shadows.

First the jeans, one leg, the other, zip, button, done. Then the shirt, mostly not-wrinkled, over my head, over my hair. The hair. Oh, the hair. It’s a mess of brown waves and curls—there’s no brushing it. I know better. I’m almost 30. So, I know better. Just let it be wild. I’ll throw it in a hair tie later, I think. I forget the hair tie.

I slip on brown flats, grab my too-big backpack, snatch my keys, and pick up my phone. I open the creaky door and leave the room. The sun is starting to show up for the day. It seems nice enough outside. I can’t actually tell. I hate mornings. I clunk down the stairs, leave, and walk up a hill to my car.

Now, notice notice all the things I did NOT do.

I did not brush my teeth or wash my face or put on makeup. I didn’t eat breakfast or drink a glass of water or do any of those adult things you do when you are about to spend hours in public with people. It was rough, and I couldn’t have cared less.

That is what happens when I don’t get enough sleep. Sure, I’ll get work done and be responsible and function through the day, but I’ll avoid mirrors and forget about flossing and just live with the fact that I didn’t nail it in the world that day. Not at all. Not even a bit.

And it’s not like I didn't have enough time to get ready. I did. I just didn't have it in me. I didn't have it in me to do the things one learns to do when getting ready for, let’s say, Kindergarten.

Maybe that’s what happens when the day’s destination is lackluster and the patterns are the same and it’s just taking everything out of you to be where you’re at in that moment. I don’t know. Maybe not, but definitely maybe some days.

Life is a lot of up and down and then really unexciting in-between stuff. When that in-between stuff is just too much, I give it the finger, dress myself, and figure I at least matched my shoes and socks.

So if you’re wondering if I have it all together or if you’re the only one struggling out there, fear not, I totally brought the bar down. In fact, it should be easy for you to hop right on over.

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Why I Write: Pregnancy, Miscarriage, and Life

I write because speaking is not as easy. Writing is where I find my voice. I think back to when I started. I remember the why. I remember why an audience—why blogging.

It was the summer of 2006, four days after I found out I was pregnant. I was newly married and 21. I decided on a blog to update family on life-happenings and hold a space for an upcoming reality. I had people all over the United States, and a blog seemed more efficient than emails and phone calls.

Then a few posts in and few weeks later, I started to bleed. It was doctors' offices, and tests and a phone call, and finally the end. I wrote the reality of the moment: “We lost the baby…”

It was fear and joy that started a blog and it was love and grief that kept it going.

Writing is where my soul finds its voice.

Life is a heavy burden to carry, much too heavy to go it alone. So, I write into the cool fog with the others who are lost there. But we are not lost—not completely—but in the thick of it, it feels like lost.

That real shit? That ugly mess? That’s why I write. That’s why I yell and cry and get it all down. Because we don’t deserve to go it alone. This whole life-mess kind of sucks and we’re looking for others who has survived—it’s how we know we can too. Therein lies the hope.

We can offer a bit of funny, a touch of sarcasm, some well-timed expletives, and a deepening sense of not-aloneness. I can talk about the journey, the struggle, the darkest places, share the little bit of light I’ve found—that’s what I’ve got to offer. I’m not very good at the black and white, but I’ll walk with you through that grayness, through the fog.

Where does that leave us? What’s going on right now, today?

Writing is a painful and unlovely thing. It takes work. It is how I say "Goodbye;" Hello;" "It hurts;" "I don’t know;" "I love you." It is how I’ve sorted through a tangle of relationships and emotions and truths. It is the process by which I get at something real and good and even holy. Writing is an act of spiritual necessity.

So, I’ve finally been writing enough to start throwing words into the beginnings of a book. I think that book is going to take a bit of oomph and gusto, and I want to do it right—it’s full of that life-shit. There’s no contract, or agent, or big-name-in-lights, but there is a story, and sometimes that's good enough.

So while I know I promised three blogs posts a week, I can only manage twice a week, and I wanted you know.

And I also wanted you to know why this blog exists.
Now you do.

Now tell me, how does your soul speak?

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