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.
I have always written about things that move me. Things that I’m passionate about. Things that have affected me deeply. It’s why I write about travel, about books, about my family, about fitness, and most of all, it’s why I write about love. I love writing about love.
Nothing has brought me more joy and emotion that loving someone and being loved.
Today I get to officially celebrate 3 years of pure joy and raw, emotional love.
I won’t offer advice or insight today. Our story is our own. From the smiles to the tears, to the nights spent cuddled next to each other and those spent thousands of miles apart. For over six years we’ve been figuring it all out together and for three years today, we’ve been figuring it out as a married couple.
I am insanely proud of our marriage. We were kids when we were dating, kids when we got married, and according to both sets of our parents, we’re still kids now (Disclaimer: we’re both the babies of the family so we’ll be affectionately referred to as the kids until the end of time). For being “children” though, we sure do a hell of a good job at being husband and wife. We love deeply, communicate well, respect always, plan wisely, spend within our means, and grow closer through each trial.
My favorite part of all? We always say yes. To adventure, to new opportunities, to each other, to growth, and to love.
Loving this man has been the biggest, most empowering, fulfilling thing I have ever done.
I am a better person (and a better feminist) for understanding the sacrifice and selflessness of unconditionally loving another.
Cheers to three amazing years. There is no one on earth I’d rather adventure with than you, my love.
“I knew I did from that first moment we met. It was… Not love at first sight exactly, but – familiarity. Like: oh, hello, it’s you. It’s going to be you.”
– Mhairi McFarlane
I read the travel writing compilation of Don George before I left on this trip. His book, “The Way of Wanderlust” struck a yearning in my heart for places I’d never considered visiting until he wrote about them. From hiking Kilimanjaro to relaxing in the Cook Islands to exploring hidden temples in Cambodia. George’s words have a way of making one feel as if you’re right there with him, and upon snapping out of the trance, an intense urge to buy a plane ticket immediately.
Reflecting on Costa Rica, I wish I could describe this country as perfectly and poetically through the written word. Unfortunately I feel my favorite memory from the trip has to be accompanied by pictures to tell the story accurately. Maybe one day I’ll be a great travel writer, or maybe I’ll always need the pictures…
It was hot. Nine in the morning and the sun was already beating down with such ferocity I knew my cheap straw sunhat and sunscreen applied over an hour ago were doing little to protect my skin. We had also been trudging along the beach for the past fifteen minutes, so sweat had began to form at every crease of my body. I glanced up to Michael, about 10 feet in front of me, diligently marching towards our final destination, surfboard in tow. He’d insisted on grabbing it before we entered the park, so I had little sympathy for his struggle as he shifted it between arms every couple of minutes.
Looking past him, I could see the end our of trek. The Whale’s Tail in Parque Nacional Marino Bellana. At low tide Playa Hermosa and Playa Uvita, two beaches along Costa Rica’s southwestern coast, joined to form the infamous Whale’s Tail. From the moment I saw the aerial view on one of the many travel blogs I poured over prior to our trip, I knew I had to see it for myself.
I wiped my forehead and adjusted the backpack on my shoulders. Many around us were making the same trek to the end of the Whale’s Tail, but some had plopped down right on the narrow stretch of beach for a break. I envied them. They didn’t have a husband on a mission. I picked up my pace and briefly wondered how many Pina Coladas I was walking off.
After five or so minutes, the soft, wet sand began to be sprinkled with rocks and I looked up from watching my feet to see we’d reached the end. The rocky, tide-pool filled end of the whale’s tail. Michael had come to a stop and as I tried to maneuver around rocks to reach him I understood why. Our flip flops were no match for the jagged, soaked terrain. We’d planned to walk to the very end so he could surf and I could sun bathe, but there was at least 500 ft to go and no chance we’d make it unscathed.
“So much for that,” he said begrudgingly and I sighed in agreement. “Well, I saw some bigger waves back where we entered in the park. Let’s just go back there. Closer to food and drinks. Maybe you can find some shade.” I grimaced thinking of the walk back, but knew my face was already beat red. Without another word he turned around and walked away. A bubble of anger rose up in my throat. I was disappointed enough by our anti-climatic whale’s tale adventure, but his disinterest in anything but surfing was beginning to piss me off. I stubbornly contemplated sitting down right there among the tide pools to take in the turquoise ocean crashing into the black rocks of the tail’s end all by myself. I glanced back to see how far he’d made it and instead, I saw the view.
The stretch of beach that led us out to the tail had already begun to disappear back to the ocean. But each time the waves retreated, the jungle, mountains, and marshmallow clouds before me reflected in the wet sand. To describe it as simply “stunning” would be a travesty. Frozen in place and humbled by the earth, it hit me.
Walking out on the Whale’s Tail to stare at the ocean wasn’t the point. One could stare at the ocean from any position on shore. Travelers walked out on the Whale’s Tail to look back. They walk out into the ocean to see the land from a different perspective.
I stood for a few moments longer before Michael called to me. He pointed up at the mountains with a delighted expression. I smiled in spite of my annoyance just moments before. Sharing this with him, with the person I love more than any other, was so much more important than being bitter he rather surf than meditate. I jogged to catch up with him – a feat considering the sun only blazed more fiercely as we approached mid-day.
We walked in sync back to the main beach together, silently sharing our awe of this place we had the privilege of visiting. Just before we veered right to settle into our palm tree hangout, I saw it. The very point where the beaches met. The very tree from which the whale tail grew each morning and disappeared each afternoon at high tide. My head must have been down on the walk out to have missed it, so focused on the destination I’d forgotten to enjoy the journey. Or, I had simply needed a new perspective.
I snapped the picture. Michael yelled back to say he could see the perfect spot up ahead. I turned away from the edge of the world and find that weeks later, it is forever seared in my memory.
Thank you for the memories, Uvita. Pura Vida.
“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
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
Last night was the best.
My company had its annual holiday party. This year it was at the EMP Museum in Seattle. The cocktails and food were excellent. The exhibits were fun to explore – seeing Sirius’ cloak from the Harry Potter movies and playing around with this interactive camera that turned you into your own horror character were some of the coolest parts! It was great to see all my coworkers out of a professional setting, but best of all?
From the second I asked if he wanted to go – he was completely on board and excited to accompany me. We got him a brand new, tailored suit. He wore terribly uncomfortable shoes all night long. He schmoozed with absolutely everyone I needed and wanted him to. He supported me and my career, just like he has every single day since were just kids dating and talking about our dreams.
Attending a party for a company like this is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. That sounds terribly vapid, I know. But growing up in a 100 person town – the thought of being a kick ass working gal and attending company events in a big city was something that enamored me.
And here we are.
And when I say WE, I mean WE. I worked hard to get an awesome position at a great company in downtown Seattle all by myself, yes. But my husband has helped make it possible. I give credit where credit is due, and as someone who teeters on giving up when rejections pour in while job searching – he’s the one who has kept me grounded time and time again whispering in my ear, “Keep going.”
To anyone who follows me on social media – Oops. Last night was such a big deal for me. Not just because I got in a pretty dress and figured out how to curl my hair with a straightener (although that helped). We were there because I’ve been working my ASS off at this job since late August, continuing to build a career/life I’ve dreamed of. Having my husband by my side who was so damn proud of me was just the cherry on top.
Marry someone who pushes you and cheers for you, and knows when to do which.
“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but let’s be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul, but cracks to put their love into, is the most calming thing in this world.”
How is it already May? I have been wishing for time to speed up ever since the first snowfall hit the end of September, and now I wish I would have been more careful about what I wished for…
We leave Alaska permanently in almost 60 days. 60 days. I am trying not to panic.
Firstly, because I am immensely excited about this move and I want that giddy feeling to stay with me through all the trials were bound to run into when picking up our life and moving 2,000 miles away. Secondly, because of the conversation I had with my husband the other night while lying in bed.
He was trying to fall asleep as I laid wide awake, rambling aloud about job prospects and whether I want to stay in this career field or move towards other passions of mine when it hit me:
Life is short.
I know, soooo philosophical.
But the time we get on planet earth with the people we love is cruelly numbered. There is never enough time to be everything and do everything and see everything. I can not work at Amazon and Microsoft and Boeing and every fancy advertising agency in Seattle and write a book and be an event planner and work in government and all the ideas and dreams that were racing through my mind the other night. I can not work at every interesting job position and live every life I can imagine.
I can’t. You can’t. None of us can.
I have only this one, precious life. Whatever I choose to be or where I choose to work will be the right choice because I made it so. I will choose and that choice will be right for me because this life is what I make it.
So then, why was I worrying and agonizing over what job to apply for and how long unemployment may last and what we’d do if we can’t live the perfect two-income lifestyle we live right now when it’s all just so…trivial.[[Back to the conversation with my husband]]
“None of this matters, huh?” I had asked, rolling on my side so we could get into our habitual cuddling position to sleep.
“The jobs, you mean?” Was his reply as he wrapped his warm arms around me, and I breathed in his minty aftershave.
“Yeah,” I felt a wave of relief overcome me as I said it out loud, “It doesn’t matter what job I choose, does it? This. This moment is the only thing that matters.”
“Yep. But I was just going to let you figure it out,” he answered quietly.
“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts.
You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth.
But that’s all.”
– Sugar (The Rumpus)
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I love September in Alaska.
Two years ago, this month, was the first time I flew here to visit Michael. It was the first time we went to Denali National Park. It was the first time I’d ever seen mountains of this grandeur and the first time I’d seen the leaves on the trees change so beautifully. Minnesota has a gorgeous fall, don’t get me wrong. But nowhere I’ve ever visited or lived beats an Alaskan September.
It took me a LONG time to fall in love with Alaska. A looooonnnnggggg time.
I spent the first five months living here asking how quickly we could leave. We were newly married, on a relatively tight budget, living in a tiny, old, debilitated apartment, and we couldn’t afford to do much outside Fairbanks.
And then we took our first trip to Anchorage Thanksgiving weekend, and slowly but surely, I started to see the appeal. When you drive 6.5 hours down the Parks Highway after a freshly fallen snow when the trees and mountains are glittering the entire drive you can’t help but fall in love a little bit…
We began to ski and snowboard frequently throughout the winter months, and the holidays proved to be adorable and festive in snow-covered Fairbanks and North Pole. Two trips to visit both our families kept me sane through March, and even caused me to miss our new “home”. Moving into the lovely duplex apartment at the end of this past winter was when I finally came around.
The tipping point to loving Alaska was taking an amazing Alaskan road trip with my husband and three closest friends in the end of June/beginning of July. Seeing the state through their eyes made me realize what I have here and how it’s only temporary. Despite what Alaska is missing, it has so much to offer.
So I can finally say without hesitation, I am content.
I am content with Fairbanks, Alaska. I am content with our adorable apartment, the Crossfit community I’m apart of, the aesthetic views while running, the mountains I see on my way to work, and our proximity to visiting them whenever we feel like it. I am content with the unending winter, the lack of fresh produce, the small population of this area, the expensive plane tickets, and the isolation.
Because where else on earth will I see a sunset like this?
“You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.”
― Stewart O’Nan, The Odds: A Love Story
While dealing with monotony and dreaming of future adventures, I’m reminded to be grateful for the simple things.
For nature and Alaska. For mini adventures on the weekends that don’t require an expensive plane ticket. For the color green after the longest winter of my life. For too many sweets and the energy to run, lift, and hike them off. For motivation to write and read despite the distractions of social media and Netflix. For my mom and her unending words of kindness and advice. For nieces that may not have the attention span to FaceTime with me right now, but giggle like crazy and say “hi” repeatedly for the first 60 seconds that they do. For a husband that deals with my sass and meets it with incredible amounts of love and laughter. For good health and great motivation. I am grateful.
My photos taken on a iPhone 5 in Fairbanks, Alaska. The top three are from our anniversary weekend on the Chatanika River and the bottom two are from our mountain biking excursion at the University of Fairbanks.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
– Eckhart Tolle
I am a feminist. I’m not a “kind of feminist” or a “feminist if” or “someone who believes in the idea of feminism”. I am a feminist to the fullest extent of the word. I believe in gender equality and empowering the women who’ve been placed below men for centuries. I am a feminist who believes in fixing the wage gap between men and women, having more female representation in the media, and abolishing rape culture (for starters).
I also love men. One man in particular. I’m married to him, actually. He’s in the United States Army and he’s my definition of perfect. He is a man, and he’s great. Men are great. Men bring things (yes, besides sperm) to the table that are needed in our cultures and our societies. My husband brings logic and calmness to balance out my emotional, passionately charged soul. He is my better half every other day. My dad has been the greatest role model, and has taught me to hold true to my stubborn beliefs.
I am a feminist and I still like men.
That’s a crazy concept for some people to understand; the same people who don’t understand the #YesAllWomen hashtag going viral on Twitter. The critics say us feminists are “throwing pity parties”, “hating on men”, and “trying to make themselves the superior gender”. It has been a struggle for me to keep my fingers from tweeting out some nasty replies.
Feminism exists to create equality. Not to rise women above men, and dethrone them from the pedestals they sit on. Women have been underrepresented, under-appreciated, and devalued throughout history. All we’re trying to do today is to make it a level playing field. To create equality. It’s mind boggling for me when people don’t understand this.
But it’s equally mind boggling for me when my fellow feminists think I’m not representing women well because I got married at 21. Because I decided to move to my husband. Because I took his last name. Because I went in a different direction for my career. Because I chose love.
Apparently, in some women’s eyes, I’m less of a feminist.
I had a girl in college, after I told her I was getting engaged, say to me (and I quote), “Oh wow…well if that’s something that you think actually makes you happy.” She then unfriended me on Facebook that same week. She was an out-an-out advocate for feminist rights and I guess I didn’t meet her ideal standards of a feminist. Ouch.
I’ve stopped taking it to heart. Any negative comments or questions I receive I laugh off. My husband encourages my beliefs, advocates for me to follow any dreams I have, and defends my right for Uncle Sam to do so. I am completely content with my position as a young, married, feminist. I support my husband, my country, and am thankful for my right to advocate for women.
Women, our goal as feminists is to advocate for other women. For all other women. We have enough bullshit to deal with when people hijack the #YesAllWomen hash tag and use provocative language and hateful, degrading comments directed towards feminists. Do we really need to judge one another?
Whether we’re married or single. Whether we’re say-at-home mom’s, CEO’s, or soldiers. Whether we dress provocatively or conservatively, have multiple sexual partners or one. Let’s advocate, encourage, and support one another.
I’m a married feminist, and it’s the best thing ever.