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.
BY TYLER FORD
do you remember the first time you were called annoying?how your breath stopped short in your chestthe way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablazethe 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 heardfor 3 minutesfor 10 minutesfor 2 hoursforever.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 beand have never been“too much.”
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.
“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.
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:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
A 3 day weekend not chalked full of plans was the perfect opportunity to take a critical look at my blog (once again). But before I even had a chance to decide what direction to take this baby of mine into 2016, I noticed the date.
6 months, almost to the day, we moved to Washington and into our new home.
Woah. That shakes me up quite a bit. I lived in Alaska for just over 2 years. I have already been in Washington 1/4 of the time I spent in Alaska. It does not feel like that in the least. I vividly remember the moment we crossed the border from Canada into Washington. We were shrieking and laughing with excitement driving through farm land because we’d picked a border crossing in Central Washington, miles from I-5. I was texting everyone we knew with, “HEY – we’re alive!”. I stared at the mountains to our left and the hilly farmland to my right with intrigue. What would our home look like?!
Then we hit interstate 5 at Bellingham. We were in stop and go traffic for about 2-3 hours. We were exhausted from driving for four days straight through Canada. We were flustered to have to deal with brake lights and rush hour. I stared at Seattle as we passed by in amazement, but we had a million things to figure out in the next week so I knew visiting the city was out of the question. We had not been prepared for the infinite amount of people.
Living in Washington has basically been like that for the past 6 months.
I lived in Minneapolis for college. I understand urban environments. I adored Minneapolis. Western Washington is like taking Minneapolis and pumping it full of crack and spreading everyone out over a big area but the traffic doesn’t get better and the amount of people per square mile isn’t reduced.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Washington. I really do. I love the amount of things there are to do here. I love how picturesque and beautiful it is no matter what season; from the mountains to the ocean to the forests in between. I love the weather. I mean it’s currently mid-January and almost 50 degrees with a light drizzling rain?! I love our little town nestled away from the major cities but within a very short drive to all of them.
But after 6 months, I can see its flaws too. My husband tried to explain this to me before we moved. I remember the conversations very clearly. “Everywhere on earth has positives and negatives. There is no perfect place.”
Damn. I think he was right this time.
Western Washington’s population does drive me a bit crazy. The roads are always busy. The grocery stores are always busy. The ski resorts are always busy. Even the hiking trails are busy. Everywhere is always busy.
People are also very West Coast. I was told by a coworker my second week of work that he could tell I was from the Midwest by how often I smiled at people. Yes, by how often I smiled. People aren’t outwardly rude, but they all seem very apathetic. Why smile at strangers? Why lend a hand to someone who just dropped a few things? etc.
All in all – 6 months in Western Washington has taught me A LOT. The good and some of the not so good. It’s taught me that I took for granted how peaceful Alaska was. It’s taught me that as I age, I enjoy my time away from people (Oh God – I’m my parents). But most importantly I’ve learned no matter where we go or choose to settle*, every place has its triumphs and its drawbacks. The key is not to dwell on the latter.
After I just spent a blog post dwelling. Do as I say, not as I do…
Well, I’m off to hit up the grocery store while the Seahawks game is still on! This is my new strategy to avoid people. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.
“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”
― John Steinbeck
*Unless we move to Bora Bora or an island country outside the hurricane belt without snakes
My house is so messy right now. I am talking clothes strewn all over my kitchen, laundry up to my eyeballs, dishes in the sink, rugs that need vacuuming, counter and table tops in desperate need of organizing, and leftover glasses on the coffee table.
But my life is so full right now. Those clothes all over the foyer and kitchen are drying off next to the heater after the best day skiing in Washington’s Cascade mountain range. The laundry is from a wild week of work and working out and after work fun so I was changing at least twice a day. The rugs are trekked with mud from three people going outside in Washington’s cool, drizzly winter (instead of negative, bitter cold!!!). The table and counter tops are filled with mail and bills because we have somewhere to call home and electricity, heat, and water. And the leftover glasses are because we spend most of our evenings hanging together in the living room (me, husband, and our fabulous roomie) watching movies and socializing. The holidays are also out in full force here and among the mess we have colorful holiday lights, a glittering tree, rugs with snowmen, tins of Christmas cookies, and a hodge podge of various decorations.
Life is busy and messy, but I am grateful.
I’ve had people comment on my photos and on things I post on social media with sentiments like: “Wow, I’m so jealous of your adventures!” or “You really know how to live life!”.
Here’s the thing:
I am a pessimist at heart. My life is nowhere near as perfect as the filters I use on VSCOCam. I work long hours. I argue with my husband. I have a messy home. I don’t know how to decorate. Sometimes I eat ice cream and cookies for dinner. I can be the crankiest person in the world. I envy other people even when I shouldn’t. I am flawed.
But I am also determined to live the most full, fun life I can. I wake up early and workout and try to eat right so I feel good about myself when I lay back in bed at night. I plan trips and excursions by saving my money and [not so] patiently waiting for the event. I put effort into making holiday memories because I grew up fondly remembering the effort my mom made for holidays. I also take pictures of it all because as a pessimist and an observant, reflective soul, I need to remind myself constantly that LIFE IS GOOD.
I can look at my house in this moment and feel disheartened that I can’t keep it clean or perfect, grow frustrated with my husband, or spend my entire day ignoring everyone to clean it perfectly. OR I can recognize that good memories create a messy home. Effort creates a good life. Working towards being an optimist will one day make me one.
The sun is currently shining despite the fact that my weather app says rain all day (& for the next 10 days).
I think I’ll take that as a sign. I hope you do too.
“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”
― Antonio Gramsci,
Hey! Do you remember me? I’m the girl who used to blog frequently about hiking trips and Alaskan winter struggles and the moving and job searching debacle that was my life for months on end.
Where have I been?
Oh just putting in long days in downtown Seattle at a marketing firm, loving on my cute husband when he’s around, entertaining a plentiful amount of guests, and hanging with my bestie who I now call roomie. I try to squeeze working out in at 4:50 am on weekdays when my eyelids aren’t glued shut and leftovers in at 7pm when I roll in the door. Most weekends I spend one day doing extensive amounts of laundry, cleaning, and errand running and then the other day I’m usually exploring this beautiful place I call home.
Welcome to the chaos that is my life.
Oh and those 80 minutes I’m on a train every day? Well that’s been devoted to zoning out on social media, catching up on the news, and reading fiction books that get me out of reality. By the way, has anyone read The 5th Wave? So damn good! I am such a sucker for young adult fiction. I’m forever and always a sassy teenager at heart, just with better skin.
I don’t mind the craziness. Some days I feel like a bit of a failure when I can’t fit a workout in, but others I feel so proud I’m not spending hours watching Netflix like I did in Alaska. Give and take, I guess?
There are so many things I want to share. From little day trips and hiking excursions, to the best bars and restaurants I’ve tried in Seattle, to tips on how I’m not gaining a hundred pounds when I never have time to work out.
I also want to blog about the real things going on in the world: the presidential election, Paris, women’s rights, organized religion, homelessness, etc. My head is spinning with things I want to say about all these issues, but I never feel like I have enough time to educate myself fully to formulate a post.My blog is usually light and fun, but sometimes I think it’s important to get real. Having to dodge tents and garbage on my walk to work on a public sidewalk in downtown Seattle each and every day when it’s 40 degrees outside and I know people are sleeping inside of those makeshift homes – that’s real.
I obviously haven’t been writing enough since this post is all kinds of getting sidetracked.
My point? I’m trying to make it a priority to update this space since it’s always been such a fun, relaxing part of my life. I know my frequent readers are a small group, but I truly appreciate each and every one of you who have stuck by since first subscribing (even if half of you are related).
Living in Washington has been an exciting, crazy adventure. I want to share all the wild bits of it whenever I can. Even the rough stuff every now and then (as mentioned above) so I keep it real. For example, I’m writing this from the very last train out of Seattle back to the little town we live because I was working for 10 hours straight. I ate my lunch in-between key strokes and spent the last couple hours fixing mistakes I created and waiting on client calls. It’s not always glamorous. Hell, sometimes it’s hard. But tonight on my walk to the train I reminded myself to look UP from my e-mails and from my rush to get home.
And I’m thankful I did.
Don’t mind the poor quality, I grabbed this shot on Snapchat while saying a silent “thank you” for how lucky I am to live this life I do.
I think I’ll smile at a stranger before I get off this train, hug my husband a little closer when I get home, have more patience for my clients at work tomorrow, and savor that last sip of wine a little more.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
– John F. Kennedy
I realized yesterday whilst unpacking groceries, planning out dinner and washing off the counter now occupied by my toaster, fruit basket, coffee maker, and various other personal items – I have finally reached a state of contentment. It is as if I had made it to the crest of chaos mountain and I have been on my way back down to routine and calm. I just hadn’t realized my strides were getting easier and more enjoyable.
Having all our personal items in our home – especially our big, comfy non air mattress bed – has been life changing. I no longer feel like I am a guest in someone’s abandon house. My house is becoming a home.
I have also had the opportunity to explore our neighborhood and I ADORE it. I am about a 10 minute walk from the most adorable downtown filled with shops and restaurants and bars and parks. I already have a cute little frozen yogurt place I frequent.
I’ve also been to Dairy Queen three times in 3 weeks but that’s unrelated.
My body and mind can definitely tell I am in a better place. My skin has cleared from the ferocious breakout the road trip and living in a hotel had caused. My weight has dropped a couple pounds since I have been able to eat GREEN THINGS and run or walk nearly every day. My chest no longer feels like it is caving in on itself from anxiety regarding money and uncertainty.
Besides big things coming together, there having been a lot of little things keeping me sane. Moving? Experiencing some other big, life-shaking change? Here’s a list of things to help you and I remain calm:
4. Inspiring words from Pinterest or Tumblr. I have internally recited this quote at least 100 times since leaving Fairbanks:
Getting a new routine in a new place is always hard. My freshman year of college I coped with partying, in Alaska I coped with a healthy mix of tears and humor, and this time around I have this tried and true list. Moving is messy. I’m thankful to (mostly) be on the other side of the mess today.