Too much

I have always been “too much” for certain people.

Too loud in conversation. Too outspoken about politics. Too enthusiastic about school projects. Too overzealous in gym class. Too angry about injustices. Too rough in basketball games. Too sassy when irritated. Too eager about the future. Too annoying. Just too much.

I have been called out or made of fun for this more times than I can count, by kids and adults alike. A particularly fun nickname I earned in junior high was “Spazzy Cami”. The girl who was always just too much. I live life with my heart on my sleeve, and I always have. If I’m feeling something – you’ll know.

I have also spent much of my life apologizing to those select groups of people. I’m sorry for being loud. I’m sorry I said what I was thinking. I’m sorry I got angry. I’m sorry I’m dramatic. I’m sorry for being sassy. I’m sorry I get so obnoxiously excited.

But the best part of getting older? The part my parents left out of all those talks when I was a teenager crying over boys who thought I was too awkward or girl “friends” who called me too weird or teachers who told my parents I was too loud…you grow to love the parts of yourself that other people don’t. 

I will never apologize again for being too much for certain people.

I don’t apologize for being loud any more. I talk loud. I type loud. I think out loud. I am a loud person. I’m not sorry.

I don’t apologize for being passionate about politics or people or injustices. This one in particular has gotten me into more arguments or trouble than I can count, usually ending in me apologizing. But as an adult – I have learned you do NOT have to say sorry for what you believe and sharing those opinions or beliefs in a respectful way.

I don’t apologize for being easily excited or angry or sad. I don’t bottle my emotions. I am open and honest. I won’t lie to you. I couldn’t even if I tried. It’s evident how I feel in every mannerism and facial expression I make.

I don’t apologize for being excited about nerdy things or pouring my heart into whatever fitness regimen I’m doing.

I’m not sorry for being “too” much anymore. I am just enough.

Why am I sharing all this?

Because I want my sweet niece at 4 years old who is already being called too dramatic and too bossy to know that she will never be too much for the right people. I want the timid girls out there who never speak up because society or religion has taught them to be quiet and obedient because it’s expected and feminine, that they can speak up and get angry. I want the women in the rural community I grew up in who don’t want to anger their husbands or their friends with their differing views to know that they have a voice, and their opinions and emotions are never too much. 

To all the middle school girls who are called too annoying or too awkward or too weird to date a boy or to be friends with someone – please don’t feel like you have to lessen yourself to meet their expectations. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You will never be too much of anything for the good, quality people who deserve a place in your life. Never.

Please don’t feel that in order to impress or satisfy a boy, or a friend, or a teacher, or relatives, or your own family – you hide the parts of yourself that “annoy” others. If they’re annoyed – it’s their problem, not yours. Apologize when you hurt someone or when you are in the wrong, and that’s it. Never apologize for who you are. 

I’m not an avid reader of poetry, but this one hit home in the deepest, best kind of way.

Too Much

BY TYLER FORD

 

do you remember the first time you were called annoying?
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablaze
the way your throat tightened as you tried to form an argument that got lost on your tongue?
your eyes never left the floor that day.
you were 13.
you’re 20 now, and i still see the light fade from your eyes when you talk about your interests for “too long,”
apologies littering every other sentence,
words trailing off a cliff you haven’t jumped from in 7 years.
i could listen to you forever, though i know speaking for more than 3 uninterrupted minutes makes you anxious.
all i want you to know is that you deserve to be heard
for 3 minutes
for 10 minutes
for 2 hours
forever.
there will be people who cannot handle your grace, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart;
mostly because they can’t handle their own. but you will never be
and have never been
“too much.”

 

 

ATX in 3 days

This is the first Saturday in weeks I have nothing to do. No trips. No visitors. No excessive errand running or cleaning. I refreshed Instagram like five times before I made the decision to do something fulfilling with my new found free time – blog about my Austin trip!

In mid-January over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend my roommate, a friend from work, and I made our way to Austin, Texas for three days. We wanted a break from the rain and snow of winter in Washington, and this lively Southern city seemed like the perfect destination. We knew very little about Austin beyond it being the Live Music Capital of the World. Luckily I am about as Type-A as they come and genuinely enjoy doing lots of extensive research on trips I have planned. For an initial visit, we feel like we hit all the spots a winter weekend in Austin can offer.

Travel

We flew from Seattle (SEA) on Delta with a short layover in Salt Lake City (SLC). From Austin (AUS) we flew Alaska on a straight flight that lasted about 4 hours. Both airlines I love and always recommend.

Accommodations

We stayed at the The Radisson Hotel & Suites in Downtown Austin. If your priorities are location, location, location – this is the hotel for you. We didn’t rent a car for the entire trip and this hotel was a short walk or ride share from everything. The lobby, pool area, and concierge were great. The rooms are a little outdated, but the floor to ceiling windows were magical. We spent one night with ice cream propped in front of the massive windows watching a thunderstorm. Overall, a very nice hotel for our stay.

Day One: Brunch, Barton Springs, & Dirty 6th Street 

We were exhausted after getting in around 1am, so let ourselves sleep in the first day. First things first on day one – a late brunch at Jacoby’s recommended by an Austin local I follow on Instagram. The dreamiest little ranch-to-table restaurant on an edgier side of town. We shared a pitcher of mimosas and I ordered the Braised Beef Benedict to get a taste of their locally sourced beef. Yes, my life was changed.

 

After Jacoby’s we took a RideShare Austin (Austin does not have Uber/Lyft – but this service operates essentially identically) to the Barton Springs area where I’d researched hiking and swimming opportunities. Our driver was a wealth of knowledge about the city and explained how gentrification was creating these hot spot restaurants, bars, and shopping and driving out lower income Texans who could no longer afford their rent. It honestly felt like a history lesson and I was so impressed! I haven’t had an Uber driver that kind or informative in Seattle. He also had a few great suggestions before dropping us off at the start of the Barton Greenbelt hiking trail.

The hike was a beautiful rocky trek along the river. Despite still being within the city limits, it definitely felt like we’d left the city behind. Greenery, rock formations and swimming holes lined the trail. Along with about a million dogs. Austin is such a dog friendly city. I loved it. We hiked in and out about 5 miles total, before taking a dip in the Barton Springs Pool.

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The Barton Springs is an outdoor swimming pool from a natural spring that stays a consistent 68-70 degrees year round. We went on a mid-50 degree day. Feeling ambitious and cold, we hesitantly walked in and found it pretty refreshing as long as we kept moving. I’ll be honest – we didn’t last long. After about 30 minutes, we decided it was time to warm back up at our hotel.

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After a quick dip in the hotel’s heated pool post-outdoor unheated spring, we got ready for a night out on Dirty Sixth Street. It’s iconic and not to be missed for a first time in Austin. The street was a short walk from our hotel and completely enamoring when we reached it. Bar after bar and restaurant after restaurant as far as you can see. Live music spilled out every door and hype guys stood outside the doors pitching the best deals. It reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans without the alcoholic drinks joining the patrons out in public. Certain bars were a little tacky and I can see it not being everyone’s scene. Personally, for the live music alone, it was worth it! But of course this was a girl’s weekend and we weren’t trying to remain sober…

We started with a roof top dinner at the Iron Cactus and then proceeded to jump in and out of bars that caught our eye, my favorite of which was The Jackalope. Ah. Good times.

Pros of the night: Cheap drinks (I love Texas). Southern hospitality/kind people.
Cons of the night: A little too much to drink.

 

 

Perfect end to our first day.

 

Day Two: Room Service, Shopping in SoCo, & Rainey Street 

Yet another slow start this morning. Due to our inability to get out of bed, we ordered room service and felt all fancy. The Radisson has some fantastic eggs, bacon, and toast on their in-room menu.

Once we were out of bed, we made our way to to the SoCo District for shopping. SoCo (South Congress street) is composed of restaurants, shopping, food trucks, and even a few music venues. Despite drizzling rain, it was 70 degrees so we walked the mile to the shopping area from our hotel. We also walked across the iconic Congress Avenue Bridge to get there. Unfortunately our ride share driver said it isn’t bat season, so we didn’t get to see the bats at all during our visit.

After our day spent shopping & eating (highlights include TOM’s Roasting CO, Uncommon Objects, & Guero’s Taco Bar), we went back to our hotel to relax before heading to dinner & drinks on Rainey Street.

 

 

A 180 from our previous night on Sixth Street, Rainey Street is a historic area of bars and restaurants – mostly created from bungalow style homes. A lot quieter than Sixth and with a slightly older crowd, it was just what we were looking for on our last night.

We grabbed a drink at Lucille and food from Javelina. I was so impressed with both. Such an aesthetic pleasing street with a good, calm vibe.

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This was the night we decided to stay in and opted for pints of ice cream and a front seat to the thunderstorm from our hotel room. Washington doesn’t get many (if any) thunderstorms, so the lightning and thunder across the downtown sky was such a treat. A successful day two!

Day Three: BBQ, Winery, & Goodbye

Our last day in Austin wasn’t entirely spent in Austin…

We had a rental car reserved and drove out to the hills for wine and barbecue.

First up was breakfast at Forthright where I had possibly the most delicious avocado toast of my life. Then we picked up the rental car – which was a personal adult accomplishment for me! I have never rented a car and been solely responsible for driving. My only other previous rental was in California this fall and M drove the entire time. The rental went so smoothly. We had it for 4 hours and paid less than $50. No unnecessary insurance or charges. Thank you, Enterprise!

We drove from downtown Austin to the Duchman Family Winery. A gorgeous estate (we used this word a lot to describe homes/businesses in Texas because everything is so BIG) about 45 minutes from where we were staying with a fantastic tasting room and excellent wines. We did their recommended tasting and had a delicious mix of whites and reds. I was really sad I had only brought a carry-on so I couldn’t buy a bottle to bring back. We spent a long time just talking and walking around the winery and it was so nice. Rural Texas was so much more beautiful than I imagined. Hills and trees and wide open spaces.

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After the winery, we were starving. We made our way to the the Salt Lick BBQ and oh my god – we were not disappointed. Smoked meats hanging around a fire greet you as you walk in and long wooden tables were filled with patrons on a Monday in the late afternoon. We could tell it’s usually a long wait to get served and we were lucky to be seated right away.

I had ribs, brisket, beans, coleslaw, and bread. I fell deeply in love with Texas in that moment.

After we were full of wine & BBQ, we drove back to Austin, dropped off the car, and headed to the airport.

Such a perfect, fun filled weekend in this charming Texan city. It was so much more artsy, up-and-coming, and fun than I had hoped. We kept saying on the plane back how we couldn’t have planned it any better. I definitely hope to visit the city again, maybe for SXSW or Austin City Limits.

Hope this is a helpful guide for anyone who plans a trip to ATX!

Find the good

Find the good

Yesterday morning I looked at my phone in surprise in the grocery store to find a weary sounding voicemail from my husband half a world away and right there in front of the eggs, I began to cry. Free flowing, salty tears as I hurriedly tried to finish grabbing the rest of my groceries so I could sob in my car in peace. I was even short with a confused Fred Meyer employee stocking shelves who asked if she could help with anything, and implied in both the grocery related and non-grocery related sort of way. I apologize for my shortness ma’am and wish I could tell you in person today. Missing my fourth call in a row from my deployed husband was too much to deal with at 9am on a Saturday morning.

Don’t even get me started on the state of our nation and the current administration’s executive orders filled with fear mongering and hate. I am growing weary of calling out the injustice on day nine. Before even missing his last call, or getting to the grocery store – I had seen people from countries who arrived legally in the United States being detained at airports across the nation and my heart had already been breaking.

I decided mid day yesterday after spending about two hours trying to put away groceries and make myself breakfast in between teary breakdowns and calls to my cell provider (confirming the straight-to-voicemail calls had nothing to do with me), I had to find good this weekend. I had to choose joy and goodness. The sadness of the world and in my own life was wearing me down too much.

I sought out a friend’s advice and concluded I had to step back from the news. Before doing so, I sent a donation to the ACLU and wrote both of my senators for all the humans in this world who don’t have the privilege of stepping back because their lives are so deeply affected. I then avoided Facebook and current events. I sent my husband a straight forward email so he absolutely knew I wasn’t intentionally avoiding his calls. I ate my delicious, wholesome breakfast. I prayed. I turned on Netflix to a show that removed me from reality. I took a deep breath.

A few hours later – the good part. That afternoon he called via WhatsApp using terrible wifi that went out every 30-45 seconds and repeatedly dropped our call. It was first time I had heard from him in days and he called back again and again. And again, until we were able to finish a half way decent call. We made plans to Skype the next day. I heard him laugh. For the first time in days, I felt whole.

The goodness continued today with a winter hike planned with my roommate/best friend. We drove out to the mountains and spent four hours navigating an icy death trail, laughing at our luck  and lack of preparation, in awe of nature in the winter, and sharing inside jokes at the misfortune that awaited people started their hike as we returned. It wasn’t even a good hike, but it ended up being such a good time. We decided after that much tension and near death experiences, we deserved a treat. We devoured pizza and drinks*.

Upon reaching home, I received the request to video message and eagerly awaited the shared desktop computer he was using to work. It was then that I saw his handsome face, the newly grown mustache, his hair so much longer than I remembered, and the always familiar grin. Goodness. Joy. All of it. We caught up for nearly an hour as he fought sleep to talk to me just a bit longer. We talked about our current situations, the short term future, and our plans after we reunite. I asked how we were going to make it through. He said we always find a way. We said goodbye. I wasn’t sad. We would find a way.

I saw today that resistance and protests have erupted all over our nation’s airports and immigration lawyers courtesy of the ACLU are fighting for people’s rights. It’s not a solution or a reversal, but it’s a start.

From yesterday morning to now, joy felt impossible. I am not sure if it was prayer, or nature, or his laugh. My guess would be the last.

I am hesitant to share the nitty-gritty parts of deployment. The parts that feel so raw and new. I don’t want people to see me as anything but composed. The independent, stubborn wife with a full time job and her own life. But life breaks me down. The choices of our nation’s leader are breaking me and the distance from the one person in the world who can make it better just by his pure empathy or his constructive, thoughtful conversations is a world a way and can’t discuss it. I definitely do not have it the worst right now, but there are days that feel much worse than others.

Tonight I think I’ll light a candle, put on a face mask, return to that TV show not based in reality, and bask in our phone call until the next time we can talk. I’ll get back to writing my representatives, donating what I’m able, and staying informed – tomorrow.

Off to battle the icy trail / patriarchy. Photo courtesy of the best best friend on the planet.

 

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
– J.K. Rowling (The Prisoner of Azkaban)

 

*Yes, Pizza. Whole30 restart is tomorrow. This is actually A LOT harder than I thought it would be.

Feminists are for ALL women. Yes, even you, the ones calling us names.

Feminists are for ALL women. Yes, even you, the ones calling us names.

“I’m not a victim.”

 

“Stop acting oppressed.”

 

“This doesn’t represent all women, only the whiners.”

 

“What rights has he taken away?”

 

A beautiful, amazing movement happened yesterday. Millions of humans across the country (& even the world) marched in solidarity with one another in support of women’s rights. It was one of the most incredible grassroots efforts I have ever seen. I immensely regret not taking part.

That’s right, I didn’t march. The day after the election I made a commitment to volunteer on Saturday, 1/21 to offset some of the hatred I felt was weighing down on our country. That’s what I did. For some reason, despite the good I was doing at a rescue mission near my home, it didn’t feel as fulfilling as I’d hoped. I wish I’d been in Seattle marching on Saturday and volunteered today instead.

As I watched the photos and testimonies pour in from marchers on social media, I felt my heart soar with excitement. This was MY America. An America of people who practiced one of our most important democratic rights – assembling peacefully for what we believed. I felt proud to live here for the first time since the election.

And then, I started to see the negativity. The statements above to be precise. I’m not sure what these women who wrote these things believe about feminism. I’m not sure what news source or friend they received their facts. From an instant google search, you can discover it means the following:

Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

 

 

Feminism simply stands for equality between sexes and promotes protection of our rights (to our bodies and so forth).

 

 Why does that make a select group of women angry? What about that is so offensive to you, you feel the need to rip down others for exercising their constitutional rights?

 

To the above unnecessary comments from a feminist who didn’t march, but seriously wish she had:

 

 

“I’m not a victim” 

 

I am not a victim for standing up for other women. I am strong for doing so. I’ll stand up for you too and your right to choose to not march, or to get an abortion, or use a Planned Parenthood clinic. It’s wonderful that you have had opportunities in your life that make that unnecessary. Good for you. It’s difficult for me to understand why you can’t empathize with others, but I won’t call you names for that.

 

“Stop acting oppressed.” 

 

The man voted into office referred to a woman as a bitch he tried to fuck, and could do anything to, including grab her pussy. None of that is a lie or heresy. That happened. We have it on video. Can you imagine the things someone like that has said, that haven’t been caught on video? He now holds the highest office in our nation and is considered the leader of the free world. That is who our sons look up too now. My belief in feminism means treating women with respect and not perpetuating rape culture. Our president’s words are in direct contrast to not only how women should be treated, but basic human decency. I am not oppressed, I am outraged.

 

 

“This doesn’t represent all women, only the whiners.”

 

It does. We represent you too. Yep, my dear, even you. We will fight for you and your right to be treated with respect and dignity and make health care decisions about your own body. No matter how many names you call feminists or how much you want to disassociate yourself from equality. We’ll fight for you and your daughters.
Also, the women yesterday weren’t whining. They were exercising their constitutional right. Which you believe in right? Because you believe in the constitution? Right? I mean if you’re an American, after all…

 

 

“What rights has he taken away?” 

 

My favorite of all, because here you’re implying that unless we live in a country with horrible women’s rights, people are not allowed to say anything. “The someone has it worse, so shut the hell up” mentality. When in fact, the current POTUS has said and done things that the majority of us consider horrible. Marchers yesterday chose to stand together in peaceful unity BEFORE it reaches the point of no return. To PROTECT our current rights. They joined together to say we won’t take giant steps backward, we will not be like the countries in the Middle East. We will stand together. We will support women, the LGBT community, all races and religions, our children, our education, etc.

 

As the core mission statement on the Women’s March says:

“We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” 

To the women who felt the need to make negative comments about the march, why on earth would you have a problem with a movement that was inclusive, peaceful, and positive? What an awesome day to be a woman and an American.
**NOT my sign. But I love whomever created it. So much.**

Whole30 – Part One

The oh so real post-vacation blues hit heavy today.

I spent the holiday weekend in Austin, Texas with my two closest friends here in Washington. It was a fantastic, fun-filled three days. Coming back to work, working-out, and starting the Whole30 was a bit of a blow. Amplified even more so because my husband has officially deployed**. It’s been a stressful couple of months planning for this and now that it’s here (and by here – I’m here and he’s not) it makes the post-vacation low, even lower.

This is my first time dealing with a deployment, so unfortunately I have no advice or insight of my own. I have advice and insight from others, some of which has helped and some of which has not. The comment “you knew this day would come/you knew what you signed up for” has been particularly UNHELPFUL. If you know any service member significant others in your life, please resist saying that. Literally nothing can prepare you for the extended absence of someone you love so dear.

But alas, my blog is not about to turn into a journal of my deepest feelings. I have other outlets for those. Kind words are always appreciated, and once it’s a little less raw/emotional I hope to talk about it in a more constructive way!

Today’s post is about my first official day of the Whole30, which was pretty ambitious considering I got home from the airport at 10pm last night. I grocery shopped at 7am before working from home for the day and meal prepping between meetings and work. It has gone rather well for day one, all things considered. I spent the weekend in Austin letting myself enjoy BBQ, Tacos, Brisket Benedict (OMG), wine, and a bit too much hard liquor, so I naturally wanted to eat healthier today.

I bought the Whole30 book over the holidays and read it on my flight home just before the New Year. If you’re considering the Whole30 – Read. The. Book. One of the most crucial, stressed steps is you have to stick with this for THIRTY days. They outline really important reasons why you shouldn’t cheat, or why you should even start over if in fact you do. I wanted to kick this off on Jan 1, but after reading the book and understanding the purpose, I knew I had to wait until after my Austin trip. I was not about to do Whole 30 in the land of barbecue and biscuits.

I’ve dog-eared so many of the recipes. Yes, I’m the horrible person who does that. What is a bookmark.

Blogging about this on DAY ONE is to keep myself accountable. If everyone knows I intend to stick with it, maybe they’ll save the invite for happy hour or skip offering me a doughnut at work. Seriously guys – help me, I’m weak.

I am a huge advocate of meal prepping, even when I’m not on a diet or health kick because of how little time I have during the week. Commuting 2.5 hours a day puts a damper on daily home cooked meals. I’d highly advise meal prepping for the Whole30 to prevent cheating. This works for any healthy eating efforts. If you always have your prepped food ready to eat – you won’t grab something you’ll regret. Today, I made:

  • Kitchen Sink Scrambled Eggs
  • Baked Chicken Thighs
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
    • My own recipe variation obeying the rules: cubed sweet potatoes in coconut oil with parsley & garlic salt. Baked for 30ish mins.
  • Cauliflower Rice
    • From the book’s recipe. I can’t find it online!

The main goal of the Whole30 is to change how you think about food, and a byproduct of the program could be weight loss. Again – read the book. This isn’t a diet or a lose weight fast plan. It’s about eating whole foods while cutting out certain harmful food groups for 30 days and to see how your body reacts/feels. I’m curious to see if I’ll have some of these sugar withdrawals everyone talks about, or if I’ll start crying every time I see cheese. God, I love cheese.

Observations after day one:

  1. Portion sizes are larger than I’m used too. I’m a 5-6 small meals or grazing all day type, so I wasn’t able to finish most of my meals.
  2. Without snacking or eating things I’m accustom to, I put all my food into the “MyFitnessPal” app (you’re not supposed to count calories either – I was just genuinely curious for my first day) and noticed I was under my regular calorie intake.
  3. I had to eat blueberries after my night workout because I was shaky. This isn’t too unusual. I typically need a burst of sugar after a workout. I know fruit needs to be eaten in moderation so I’ll probably stick to eating my fruit around workouts.
  4. There’s so much meat required/encouraged than I’m used to eating. I think I’ll need to meal prep like 2x a week for a handful of days so I don’t get bored with the same protein source.
  5. Drinking my coffee black was not as bad as not being able to put cheese on everything. HA.
  6. I’m so glad Frank’s Hot Sauce is considered Whole30. #blessed

I plan to have a half way update and end update, so stay tuned!

My mom and like 2 other people keep telling me to blog about all the places I travel so I am going to TRY and get an Austin post up by the weekend. We’ll see how cranky no alcohol and the inauguration makes me 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hope everyone else’s resolutions are off to a swimming start!

**Please do not ask about dates / whereabouts / details. I won’t be sharing any of that on my blog at any point. Thanks!

Build the longer table

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.”

 

 

It took me four days to decide how I wanted to reflect on this year, and months since I have been able to formulate a blog post. I could blame my lack of writing on busyness or struggling with my newly hosted website and all of its quirks, but honestly? I haven’t felt a call to write.

My calling this year has been to focus on people, not words. To help others, to be kinder and more compassionate. 2016 has lacked compassion and empathy in every way. From our government and our leaders, to the media, to our own neighbors – there is so much apathy and anger.

Even from me. I was furious with the election (the understatement of the year). I unfortunately still am. But I’m doing my best to have my life and my home be a source of love and friendship and laughter, despite our government.

I said the above quote to my husband recently, mentioning how we’ve really been building that longer table this year.

He laughed, commenting how we’d taken in more than one stray. He meant it in the best possible way as this past year we’ve opened our home to countless friends and family. Anyone who needed a place to stay during their travels or a job opportunity or a lease they had to break or in the case of our permanent roommate – a new place to call home for awhile.

We’ve welcomed them and helped where we could, providing suggestions or a meal or company. Most of these guests have been close friends I was elated to spend time with for a few days but all the same – we’ve done what we could to make people’s visit to the Pacific Northwest a little easier and a little more enjoyable.

Our zen corner of the spare room (which triples as an office & Army equipment headquarters)

It’s not much. I’m not changing the world. I’m no Saint. I swear & drink just enough to put me out of the running.

But I like to think in some small way every time we have a guest in our spare bedroom or add an extra plate to a meal without hesitation, I counter some of that hate spreading through America. I counter some of that anger towards groups of people facing discrimination. I make the effort to bring a little more compassion into the world.

When I reflect on 2016 I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite not achieving some of my goals (like a super epic blog come back). I’m proud of my marriage – how it’s grown and strengthened with time and how I can say 3.5 years later I have never loved that man more than I do today. I am proud of my health – how I’ve maintained a relatively similar body frame and continue to eat whole foods and workout when it’s feasible. I am proud of my career – how I continue to learn and improve at my job.

But mostly I’m proud of my empathy. I’m proud of my fierce passion to help others. I’m proud of being willing to share my home and my dinners when it’s sometimes inconvenient. I’m proud of calling out the hate and indiscretions of our leaders, because apathy isn’t something any of us should be proud of.

I have made a handful of resolutions for 2017. Cliche commitments about eating healthier and saving more money, but my biggest resolution is to become more empathetic, more willing to help others, and more willing to build on to our table.

We don’t need fences or walls this year. We need more compassion.

A 4 day weekend in NYC

I was 13 years old when I asked my mom if I could use my babysitting money for a subscription to New York Magazine. I put my hard earned cash into those little envelopes the magazine companies would send out with a free magazine hoping to entice you to fifty others. I checked the box for New York Magazine and eagerly awaited its arrival.

The pictures and the city splashed across its glossy pages were unlike anything I had ever seen growing up in rural Minnesota. I was enamored. Urban sprawl and lights and fashion. Everything was happening in New York. I naively began researching boarding schools hoping I could find one with cheap enough tuition for the middle class white girl from Minnesota. When that didn’t work out, I set my sights on Columbia University. Reality set in my senior year when I actually had to apply to colleges and none of my applications were sent Columbia or NYU’s way.

No, it wasn’t until much later at twenty-four years old when I was Skyping my good friend who had gone to college on Long Island and I decided I was just going to make this happen. I was going to see New York City with her as my tour guide since she still worked on the Island. We booked the tickets and the lodging, planned our daily itineraries, and off I went Memorial Day Weekend of 2016.

Stepping off the subway in Manhattan the first time after riding it from where we stayed in Queens will be forever engraved in my memory. It was like the pictures of the magazine jumping off the page and surrounding me. Bryant Park where they once held fashion week, the New York Public Library from the Day After Tomorrow, Fifth avenue’s designer stores where the wealthy shopped. It was all real. As were the busy, head down, scrambling to their next destinations New Yorkers and the awe-struck, staring at the buildings scraping the heavens tourists like myself. The character of the city took my breath away. The infamous buildings and streets used in so many movies and television shows. The expansiveness of it all; from a bird’s eye view the city spread out for miles upon miles. We attempted to conquer as much of it as we could in three and a half days with 90 degrees and some serious humidity.

For lodging – we had a great experience with our Airbnb in Queens. Definitely felt safe and it was cheap. For my night alone, I opted for a hotel I’d absolutely recommend and stay in again – the Archer Hotel just south of Midtown. Fantastic customer service from all the staff. Great roof top bar. Centrally located. Very clean. Especially awesome bartenders who were friendly and chatty with the party of one Washington girl despite how busy it was.

Before sharing my itinerary, I’ll note that I hadn’t seen my friends in YEARS, so a lot of our evenings were spent at our Airbnb catching up instead of out of the town. This weekend plan could definitely take advantage of more of the night life, and it could could even squeeze in more of the tourist staples – Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc. But for me personally, strolling the streets and taking the city in was often more than enough.

A Long Weekend in New York City

Day One

  • Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center
  • Brunch
  • Times Square
  • Afternoon Broadway play
  • Midtown exploring
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Back to Woodside for the most epic pizza in Queens (I’ll have a whole post devoted to the food, don’t you worry)

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Day Two

  • Upper East Side
  • Central Park
  • Natural History Museum
  • Midtown for late lunch/dessert
  • Back into Central Park for a nap
  • Happy hour at a rooftop bar

 

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Day Three

  • Walking the highline
  • Greenwich Village exploring
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • Subway to Brooklyn
  • Exploring the Brooklyn Bridge park area
  • Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Little Italy
  • Chinatown
  • Archer Hotel for check in / relaxation
  • Drinks and dinner solo at the Skyglass Rooftop Bar

 

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Day Four

  • Bryant Park
  • Upper West Side and Central Park
  • Brunch & a pickleback shot with a college friend + more exploring of the Upper West Side
  • Back to where it began with exploring the New York Public Library
  • Late afternoon flight -> Back to the hotel to grab my bags -> to Grand Central station via train to Jamica/JFK shuttle -> goodbye New York

 

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The perfect little weekend in NYC. A weekend I am too eager to recreate again soon. I did come to terms with the fact that although the city was amazing to visit, I actually don’t regret not living there. Conversations about rent, the job market, and congestion worse than the Seattle area pretty much sealed that deal.

A lovely place to visit, but I’ll keep it that way. Hopefully again and again and again.

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
― Tom Wolfe

 

The Inaugural Wildcard Wednesday

Considering I have been pretty much missing-in-action from W&W since our Costa Rica trip, I figured I’d kick things off with my first Wildcard post. I could jump into travels, fitness, or marriage but I want to take it slow. I’ll get into all the heavy stuff (like the 105 lb dead lift workout I did tonight!) in due time.

 

What have I been up to?

 

Obsessing over all things fall.

 

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Trying out my birthday kayaks for as long as the weather will allow.

 

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Forcing this boy to take annoyingly cute fall photos. This wasn’t one of them.

 

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Learning how to run in frigid temps again. Thanks for the stamina, Alaska.

 

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What am I loving this week?

 

For starters the new Halo Top flavors, especially S’mores and Oatmeal Cookie.  

This jam by Cobi.

My new Sam Edelman leather jacket from Nordstrom Rack that was like HALF the price it’s listed as here.

Thrillist for providing the ultimate list of the best margaritas in San Diego. We intend to divide and conquer on this list in two weeks. Give me all the spicy margs.

This movie blowing my damn mind and making me want to pay for my car/house/life in cash.

 

 

What am I hating this week?

 

The narcissist demagogue running for president. This one’s for you, ya ass hat.

The price of plane tickets for Thanksgiving weekend. The Mr. and I are attempting to meet up somewhere between Washington and where he’ll be training for month, but we’re trying not to spend our salaries on tickets. *sob* Any holiday airfare tips?

The double click unlock feature on the new iOS. Stahhhhppp.

 

 

What do I want to shout at the top of my lungs?

 

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”

 

 

Happy Wednesday, y’all! Feel free to share anything you’re loving, hating, or wanting to shout into the void.

 Camille Mae (2)

Wanders & Words is back!

I’m baaaack. And this sweet, little space of mind has a whole new look. I have missed Wanders & Words so much. When I made the decision back in early September to start blogging consistently again I wanted to approach this right. I dropped my wordpress.com account, decided to host my website, and now I own it. From every font choice and color, to every inch of the layout – this baby is all mine.

 

What can you expect from this makeover?

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Well beyond just the aesthetic changes (I’m in love with the new logo Y’ALL), you can expect a few familiar posts:

Adventures: Where have I been? Where am I going next? What makes travel easier? How do I plan? Where do I find the cheapest flights? Why do I love airports? What airline/places are military friendly? Weekend trips. Day trips. 2 hour excursions. You name it.

Fitness: Over the past year I have been surfing, skiing, weightlifting, hiking, training for a half marathon, crushing said half marathon, kayaking, running random 5K’s and just exploring every facet of fitness (except spin classes because I tried one and it was horrible). I’d love to run another half, or pick up Crossfit again, or do one of those crazy spartan runs with fire – and share the struggles and triumphs here.

Food: New recipe? Meal prep plan? Margarita review? My experience eating my way through New York? I do warn you all that unlike previous versions of “Fitness & Food Fridays” this won’t all be healthy. The reality is – I love food. All food. Kale and donuts. Quinoa and prosecco. Chicken and chocolate chip cookie dough. I’m keeping it real this time around.

 

I’ll also be adding posts about:

Married/Military Life: Being married is such an important part of my life. When you couple our marriage with this job that deeply impacts our life decisions, these posts will delve into both aspects. How do I handle the constant questions about marrying young? How the move from Alaska to Washington was and what did it entail? As a military spouse, how does Alaska differ from Washington differ as a duty station? Why is being married literally the best thing ever?

Wildcard Words: What am I loving? What am I hating? Who do I want to vent about? *cough* Trump *cough*. What is making me smile? A song I can’t get out of my head. A current event I can’t believe. Instead of a flurry of random venting, I’m just going to condense it down into a wildcard post. Sort of like a get out of a jail free card. These will be all over the place. Sort of like my blog was before – just condensed into once every other week or so post.

 

What I won’t talk about:

My job: I’ve gone back and forth on this for a while, but I’ve concluded my current job is not a part of my life I want to share anymore. I enjoy and struggle with my career in marketing, and I’ve decided that this platform isn’t the place I want to vent or brag about it. My job is my job. This is for fun.

Book reviews/reads: This one makes me sad because I am SUCH an avid reader, but I wanted to channel my focus into a few main topics and my passion for reading didn’t make the cut. *sob* I have too many interests, I know. Feel free to ask me for a book suggestion ANY TIME. More than likely I’ll direct you to Looking for Alaska by John Green, Prep by Curtis Sittenfield, or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Or obviously the entire Harry Potter series.

 

Why the refresh?

I am so different than when I started this blog. My goals, dreams, hobbies, passions, job, writing style, personality etc etc etc. A new look felt necessary if I was going to keep writing and using this as an outlet. This blog has never been to profit or to journal. It’s sharing my life. It’s my art. It’s an archive of things I’ve done and see. It’s providing others with an opportunity to relate or agree (maybe even disagree) or to get ideas or inspiration for their own lives. It’s for conversation, for reference, for fun. It’s for me and it’s for you. I’m excited for this and I appreciate the 1, 10, or 100 people who may pass by and read any of these words.

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.” – Lee Iacocca

 

 

Tuesday evening quotes

I stumbled across an old quote I had saved that spoke to me more today than at any other point in my life –

Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.
-Farrah Gray

Now I’m drinking Rose for dinner, staying up past my bedtime, and dwelling on these words. As an adult I have found it is so easy to become jaded and lose interest in things that I once felt a deep passion for. Writing is a perfect example of this. At 10 I was convinced I’d be a novelist. At 20 I was convinced I’d be a journalist. At 25 (two weeks people) I write emails and scopes of work for clients and their projects.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for my job and thankful my words are used in any way at all. But what a cop out – to quit writing as even a hobby because I feel so exhausted and burnt out from the writing in my current career. My last blogging entry (mid-April?) is about as evident of this as a I can explain.

I am always urging my husband to follow his dreams. I want him to do what makes him happy. Currently that’s a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, but if he ever feels that isn’t for him, I always want him to feel supported to quit and find something else.

Why don’t I extend the same kindness to myself?

Again, I am thankful and content with my current position for now. Executing national email and direct mail pieces for my clients is fulfilling in a way that I had never experienced before, but I see words like the above and can’t help but feel my potential is so much greater. My passion is so much different. My drive and determination is getting lost in the hours and demands of others.

I once had a boss who told me he saw so much potential in me, he could see me running my own business one day. I felt my pride in my work ethic and commitment to do well surge. It was one of the greatest compliments I had ever received.

I have tendency to thrive on routine and safety. To find solace in the comfortable and in doing what I’m excellent at and nothing else. Not just good, mind you. If I’m not excellent – I usually just quit.

But what a thrill I think – to pursue a passion so deeply and fearlessly that failure is not an option. That doing poorly at first or for awhile is not only expected, but embraced. To stop quietly obeying the directions of others and live your life by your own rules.

“Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

I am capable of something better. I have a big enough head thanks to good parents and studious grades throughout my adolescence that I know I am destined for bigger, better things.

But at what point do I live my words instead of just writing them down?

My 25th birthday seems as good of a time as any. A quarter of a century old has brought me wisdom (or a reality check) in a way I am endlessly thankful for.

We have just one life. Just one.

 

 

 

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