Conversations with Strangers

Lately, I’ve been experiencing glimpses into who a used to be. A younger, innocent, more naive me. A me not in my 30’s. Occasionally I’ve attributed this to maintaining long-term friendships and seeing old parts of me reflected back, but I’m starting to think it’s this new thing I’ve been doing.

Last Wednesday, I was at the grocery store to pick up a few things to get us to the weekend, and throughout my short visit I had three meaningful relationships with complete strangers.

The first was the friendly pizza sample lady, aka “the top seller in the region” as she boasted. Who, after a few connections shared some extremely personal health details she is worried about. Another, in the checkout lane was a dark man, wearing a leather hat, with even fewer items in his cart than mine. He asked me to read the price on a WWI magazine to him. From there, we started talking about the civil war and some other facts I had recently learned. Then, as I was checking out, I talked with the cashier, a junior in high school who was stressing about the ACT and starting to face the realities of growing up.

So what was it that lead me to really start talking with these strangers. I think back to my 20’s, and I was so open. So, happy.

I’ve started a new supplement / health program. My first two weeks I shed 10 pounds (and have kept them off). I’ve had more energy to finish chores. I feel sharper and clearer at work. I’ve been more happy and goofy in all aspects of my life, apparently even at the grocery store.

With my health history, I’ve tried several health trends. I was ‘athletic’ through high school and college. I got into distance running in my mid-twenties which led to a lot of knee and hip pain. I switched to a diet containing mostly juice and fresh vegetables when I was diagnosed, which left me weak enough I could hardly play sand volleyball, and led to sharp pain in my joints. I got into essential oils, and found only limited results compared to the prices charged. I have a cabinet of multi-vitamins and probiotics, which never really made me feel better, but did cause my pee to turn neon yellow. I spent almost a year home-brewing my own kombucha, and then read about how dangerous the bacteria growth can be, on top of not really feeling any different. Earlier this year, I was practicing fasting days, which usually involved me curling up in bed by 8 pm with no energy.

Now, just a week shy of starting this program, I can feel and see a difference. When picking out outfits, belts fall from my waist to my hips, skirts I ordered online that I failed to return after deeming them too tight actually fit.

So what is this program? From a high-level, it’s meal replacement shakes 6 days a week, and a cleanse day once a week (you don’t have to strictly adhere to this program). While being able to pull back on calories is a major player in the weight loss side, the program is about feeding your body nutrients to keep it balanced.Many studies are testing the quality of foods we eat now, and finding they just aren’t as rich as they probably once were. This program strives to re-add these missing nutrients. Throughout all my health endeavors, I’ve just never been able to get it right on my own. All these healthy things I thought I was doing weren’t making me feel any better.

The cleanse days are to give your system a rest to detoxify. Every day, there is an “elixir” – a shot of nutrients to feed your system. Sources of nutrients is important to the company, with the back of the bars boasting the products came from “happy cows”. There are bars and snacks to eat throughout the day to stay satisfied.

Are the product perfect? I don’t think so. But they better than me eating pizza and mac and cheese and adding a side salad so I can tell myself I ate something healthy. Do they have sugar? Yes, but less than a single-serve container of yogurt, and many granola bars. Do they taste good? I think so! But I’ve never been one to hop on board with a supplement/shake program like this.

It’s also been a burden off my shoulders to not worry about food. Getting groceries, planning recipes for every meal of the day. Prepping leftovers. Products ship right to my front door on a recurring cycle. I don’t get distracted by junk food at the grocery store, and know exactly what my budget is for the month. It keeps me accountable to not eat snacks throughout the day. If anything, it’s let Blake and I focus on enjoying our one meal a day together. We actually get excited to pick something and cook together, or cherish something new at a restaurant. I savor food, rather than trying to just satisfy hunger.

I would highly encourage anyone looking to feel better to consider trying this system out. Please reach out directly if you are interested!

I do have a website through this company to order from (prepare yourself for some tacky marketing pieces here). But please contact me first prior to ordering anything! I want to help you get the best deal and setup for your first go-round. Learn more and place an order online.

YES!

I continue to surprise myself in 2015.

I was accepted to grad school. Even applying was an achievement, considering the steps it required: studying for tests, gathering portfolio pieces, and obtaining recommendations from professors and professionals. I already have done so much in 2015: I am now ordained and have wed some of my best friends, I left the country on a cruise, I’m in the middle of building a garden in my back yard, I’ve discovered my new favorite brewery in Kansas, I’ve been admitted to grad school. I have already planned two big trips across the country with friends.

And I accepted a new job a Swanson Russell.

After Tuesday, I will be leaving the comfort of the Wick alumni center walls and enter the world of advertising agencies. I have never been drawn to demanding lifestyle agencies portray, but surprisingly, I’ve never felt more comfortable about it.

Only two months ago I had a conversation with a friend about the reasons I wouldn’t switch jobs for another three years. Between my health uncertainties, my endless medical bills and deductibles, and being solely responsible for my mortgage, it’s scary to think about stepping out into the unknown.

The events leading up to my acceptance are nothing short of fate, and as I’ve learned, coincidences don’t happen. I believe there are greater forces as work, if you are open to seeing and hearing the signs. From the timing of the first contact with me, to the following weeks of anecdotes driving me to evaluate my professional status, I was continually guided back to this position. I consulted friends who had worked with my future coworkers. Conversations with unknowing colleagues answered questions they didn’t know I had. One in particular was initiated by me sharing an update about my garden. Their response was a story about a patio project he finished, only later realizing he needed to switch jobs for a fresh perspective. I asked if he thought he made the right decision. He answered, ‘with out a doubt.’

These things I thought I’d push off for years are coming so easy to me right now.

A couple of friends know how I’ve been obsessing about a recently purchased CD, spurred by a concert I went to. I will listen to it repeatedly for hours at work, and every trip I take in my car. I realized that the lyrics are echoing my recently found philosophy, with some of my favorite lyrics being: the thought of arriving, kind of feels like dying  |  If we get to see tomorrow, I hope it’s worth all the wait  |  Gathering new strength from sorrow, I’m glad to feel alive  |  construction getting louder, paving over yesterdays  |  I pause and take a breathe and bow and let the chapter end

Not only this, but the title of the CD has become my 2015 mantra: YES! <<check out some videos>>

The very beginning of this year, I was consoling a friend who has been feeling lost in life. My advice was to start saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, and trying things out. Even if he hates it, he is still one step closer to finding what he loves.

Some of the biggest hesitations I still have about switching jobs really boil down to the benefits I receive. Particularly, the retirement plan. After the initial offer, I called my friend to soundboard my thoughts, and realized that I can’t make my decisions on where I visualize myself in 40+ years dictate where I am right now. I reopened this conversation yesterday with her husband, with him echoing this thought: there is so much life you will experience between right now, and in 20 years when I am his age. So say yes, jump in, and start trying it out now.

One of the stories from cancer camp that has stuck with me, was from a friend whose son died of cancer. Two weeks prior, he purchased new climbing shoes. He lived life 100% until it was taken. Sometimes, you have to make choices for yourself, no matter how unorthodox or nonsensical they may be. You do them for you.

Maybe I will learn that I love the agency life. Maybe I will learn how much I hate the agency life, and realize how special my time at the alumni association really was. Either way, I will be making a step to a new perspective on myself, where I came from, and where I’m going. I will be one step closer to finding where I should be.

2012 was my year of tearing myself down and exploring who I am. 2013 was my year of learning to advocate and testing my strength. 2014 was my year of practicing contentment and being at peace with who I am.

2015 is a year of advancing who I can be, and saying ‘yes!’ to new experiences.

December 21, 2012 is the end.


Can’t stop listening to this today.

For almost a year now, most of us have been looking toward Dec. 21 with caution, though I doubt most people believe the world will really end.

I think people like to believe, as it unites strangers. Now a days, faith in something other than religion is almost impossible. No, the world won’t explode, but that day everyone will think twice about “what if.”

To me, this day so near the end of 2012 is a snapshot of how so much of my year was spent: throwing cation out the window and indulging in what I wanted to. YOLO, Carpe Diem, Live Like You’re Dying, whatever the phrase, that was my mentality.

In another view, life without consequences.

December has been daunting this year. I am anxious for it to come, only because I am anxious for it to be over. December 2011 left so many bad and distinct memories: the nights in New York, saying “goodbye” at the Amtrak station, going through the motions during Christmas, spending most of New Year’s night locking myself away in a bathroom.

After December, so much of the details were lost as hollowed myself as a person. I remember major things, but the timeline, the effects, the general progression is unclear. I don’t really want to remember. The unforgettable good memories are just colorful pieces that occasionally reveal themselves from the grey spiral shit show of things that were wrong.

I guess I’ve come to the conclusion, that all these coincidences lately are just a sign I’m on the right path. I’ve applied meaning to life again. Things that happen aren’t just isolated instances, that happen for no reason. I saw “The Life of Pi” over the weekend, and one of the few lines that stood out were, “Does it have to mean anything?”

It can if you want it to. Back then, I didn’t want it to.

After Doomsday (coincidentally exactly 8 months prior to Dec. 13 – the last big milestone of 2012), concerned friends asked me repeatedly, “Are you sure you’re okay?” Some recommended talking to police. All I could do was shrug. There was no point. There was no greater meaning in my mind, other than things happen. Looking back, I let things that happened that night of lesser importance, overshadow the things that happened to me. I didn’t mind, at the time.

One of my Tarot cards was Death; as my reader put it, the falsely “most feared” card. He told me, death doesn’t always mean a physical person dying. It can also mean the end of a period of time, or a personality.

December 2012 is the death of the person I was in 2012. I spent a year, running and hiding, being selfish, and living without consequences.

I started REALLY blogging on June 22 (6 months prior to the day AFTER the end of the world). I was marking that as the start of rebuilding myself. I feel like by the end of 2012, I will be there. Will I keep blogging after that? I will just have to wait to see.

I want to leave 2012 as I entered: alone. There is no better way in my mind for me to give 2012 the finger than to gracefully take a bow, in the same position I was brought into it in, but so much stronger.

I’m not dating until 2013.


“How am I going to get out of this?” “I can’t do this.” “How did this happen?” “I survived.”

Probably not the reaction you would expect when someone talks about dating.

I threw myself into the dating world once this year, and found that I’ve backed out over the last couple months. I was forcing myself to do something I thought I should be doing.

I still go out. I mingle. I flirt.

I am also very upfront about what will happen next. I’ve learned this while typing a blog in the past: “Yes, I’ll give you my number, but I probably won’t respond.” ‘Someguy’ is now the most popular last name in my phone. I won’t make any plans with them for later, I generally won’t even stay talking with that person until I leave.

They still continue. We’ll text back and forth, and suddenly I’m confused as to why I now have plans with them. I’ll make up lame excuses in my mind for why we wouldn’t work, then bail.

I know what they feel, as I used to be the person who makes excuses for other people, and convince myself they will change. I think a lot of females are drawn to guys they want to fix.

Now I am the unusual girl they want to fix. They see me as a challenge.

Who doesn’t like getting texts from people throughout the day? I’m who they think about on Sunday evenings, on their lunch breaks, on Saturday mornings.

But I run. I know what it feels like to be on the other end. To not know why this person fell off. What is the proper etiquette to tell someone, “I like that you like to talk to me, but I’m just not ready to move forward?” Is there any, other than the decency to just stop letting it drag on? I’ve used these explanations the last month, none of which have stuck: flaky, dodgy, sporadic, not dating. I even compared my dating life to a speed limit, and I max out at 12 mph.

I have friends tell me it’s okay both ways. From, “If you aren’t interested in dating you need to stop responding to them, period.” To, “They are adults, they can take care of themselves.” Even, “You’re in the driver seat, so you get to make the calls.”

I’m still learning things about people. I’m learning what I do and don’t like. I’ve learned the most interesting and that have the most attractive personalities are the ones that have been hurt, felt real pain, or struggled. I’ve learned that modern technology is playing a huge role in dating. I’ve learned that the longer I continue this stage of running, the less I like dating, relationships, and my view on them. I’m learning about myself, and how much I can do. I’m learning how far I still have to go.

I don’t want someone perfect. I want someone real. I’m dragging my feet because I can. I don’t feel any urge to fill a void, there is no reason for me to rush into anything.

So, for now, I’m going to just keep on keeping on. Sometimes that’s the best I can do. I’m already counting down the weeks until 2013 when it will be a fresh start. 2012 – you’ve been a real jerk.

I’m naive about cancer.

Back on a TBT kick!

If you live in Nebraska you either love autumn, or love spring. No one loves winter or summer here. The fall brings excitement: football, sweaters, holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I enjoyed my first handful of candy corn last week. While extremely addictive, in my mind I can’t help compare candy corn to eating plastic. There is absolutely no health benefit, it is an unpleasant color, and the texture isn’t really like anything else.

I believe that so many of our new and undiagnosable sicknesses come from synthetics that we come in contact with and digest. BPA is an obvious one, but I include things that are created for preservatives, medicines, and cleaners. I have absolutely no explanation or reason why I feel so strongly about this, other than it’s “unnatural”.

So then, it is reasonable to say that every time I eat something like candy corn, I feel .0001% more likely to get cancer.

For a period when I was much younger, I thought for some reason that people shouldn’t be treated if they developed some sort of major sickness. I won’t go into more details, mostly because I don’t remember what I was thinking, but I will say I thought that way because I had never faced anyone with a long-term sickness. In my mind, if people who reproduced were sick, they would produce sick kids… And eventually lead to a deterioration of our society.

Seriously, what kool-aid was I drinking?

Anyway, I feel like right now I still have that lack of awareness and in ability to comprehend the entire picture when it comes to cancer. I don’t know anyone who has had to “fight” it in the way you see on TV, or had a serious conversation with a loved one of a person who had it.

My mom had skin cancer (which is a huge reason why I don’t try to tan more than 5 days per year. I blame it on being largely Irish). But it wasn’t the full-blown, crisis control, shave-my-head cancer.

I feel like I’m missing out on a large part of society because I don’t participate in walks or support causes. I know cancer is a terrible thing to happen, and would never take it or a person fighting it lightly. However, forgive my phrasing of the following, but what makes cancer so “special”?

My dad had heart heart surgery two or three years ago, and had to fight an extremely hard and challenging battle to get his body back to where it was. Is there a group for people who love people who have had heart surgery? Was his battle less important in society? Less scary? Less impacting on his family and work?

Again, I know I probably sound like an ass, but I’m just naive. There are so many illnesses that require fights and support for those recovering. Sickness happens, and so much of it is beyond our control. What am I missing?