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.”
I was raised on pancakes and politics.
Weekend mornings were for a fat stack of buttermilk pancakes covered in peanut butter and dripping with organic maple syrup, followed by (or even during) a lively discussion about government officials and political beliefs.
You probably think I’m kidding?
In the third grade (2000) at 9 years old, I saw Al Gore and George Bush battling it out on the television while my teacher was simultaneously teaching us about presidents in class. I asked my parents who they were rooting for. They sat me down and explained why they supported Al Gore and that voting for president was a personal decision everyone makes on their own. Our class held a mock election and I voted for Al Gore. He won in our classroom and lost in real life, and from that point my interest in politics blossomed.
Under 18, politics fascinated me. Taking a stance and researching why I believed what I believed was a passionate hobby of mine. I got into heated debates on more than one occasion in social studies and health class. Just ask some of my former classmates.
Over 18, politics fueled me. In college I joined advocacy groups, interned at the state Capitol, and shouted my beliefs from the roof top.
As a 24 year old, the fear of a bad president or congress motivates me to act now more than ever. The reality of what could happen if the wrong person takes office encourages me to speak up; to say something to anyone who might be toeing the line between candidates.
My right and every woman’s right in this country to choose medical procedures we deem necessary, to receive equal pay, or to have a baby and be paid for the time we take all rests in the next president holding office for 4 to 8 years. My husband and all our soldiers being thrown into unnecessary wars by a reactive, instead of thoughtful decision maker all rests in our next president. As a middle class citizen who takes public transportation, relies on Tricare for my medical benefits, and believes the right thing to do is help the poor – I care deeply about who takes office and upholds these things.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the scariest candidates for president I’ve seen in all the years I’ve followed presidential races. Their extreme beliefs and outright hatred for certain groups of people is appalling. What appalls me even more is the amount of people rallying behind them, so focused on their selves and their own beliefs and financial situations – they can’t even emphasize with people who believe anything different or would suffer from these candidate’s extreme tax codes.
I could rant for days when it comes to these two candidates, but I’ll leave you with one last thought instead. When I vote, I do think about myself and my family first. But I also think about our nation as a whole. I think about whether this candidate’s beliefs will help or hurt our nation’s children, our soldiers, our minorities, our women, our poverty stricken citizens, and ALL of our families.
I won’t tell you who to vote for. I still believe with every ounce of my being that it’s a personal choice. But do your research. I mean really, really do your research. Maybe over pancakes on a Sunday morning.
Politics are stressing me out lately, so I think I’ll focus on pancakes for the rest of the morning. Here’s a nice photo of pancakes I scarfed down in between writing this post in case they’re stressing you out too.
You can find the scrumptious recipe here.
((These aren’t buttermilk because my metabolism has slowed since childhood, but pancakes with gooey peanut butter and sticky, sweet syrup all the same))
“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
– John F. Kennedy
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.”
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,
Washington’s weather has been a dream compared to everywhere else I’ve lived. No negative temperatures. No snow banks. No crazy thunderstorms. No air quality concerns. The list goes on. But I discovered after booking a river cabin on the Skykomish River northeast of Seattle that Washington is not always equipped for all of its rain. In fact, when the droplets are too big and too frequent – flooding ensues.
To say I was paranoid after we drove through standing water on a windy dirt road to this little ol’ cabin next to a flooding river in the middle of nowhere would be the understatement of the year.
Luckily, I like to take my husband along on adventures and he is the steadfast voice of reason in our relationship. After we were shown around our humble abode for the next twenty-four hours and told that the heat wasn’t working, the river is never usually this high, and the power had gone out on the previous tenant’s, my husband SOMEHOW convinced me to stay.
It also helped that the deposit was now nonrefundable at this point.
We drove back to the closest town and loaded up on rations in case we were stuck there for the weekend. My husband was actually HOPING this would happen. Opposites attract is no joke, folks.
We then got the fire roaring and settled in.
I will admit, as long as I didn’t stare too hard at the river continuing to rise and carrying down giant trees and branches…it was nice. They had cable in the middle of nowhere despite having no wifi or cell service so we watched cute late 90’s movies, made steak and salad for dinner, played scrabble, enjoyed drinks, and even braved the hot tub for a while. I felt pretty adventurous racing over to the hot tub in the pitch black with the roaring river and pouring rain around us.
It was especially nice to have a night away with my husband. Breaking away from the monotony of routine has always been so important for our relationship. Our “adventures” as we like to refer to them can be as simple as a long day hiking or a spontaneous beach trip or a night at a cabin on a flooding river. They always remind me how thankful I am to have him, and to reconnect like we’re high school kids falling in love all over again. Afterwards we always tend to hold hands a little more often, pick our battles a little more wisely, and be kinder to one another.
Overall, it turned out to be a really lovely evening.
We even discovered while driving back into the land of cell service the following day that there had been flooding all over the area and that had been the highest the Skykomish River had been in years. Over a foot above flash flood levels.
I’m glad we stayed, but I may try to plan our next adventure around the weather.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
I spend too much time thinking about all the cons that come with surviving this six month winters in Fairbanks, Alaska. While accidentally running a red light the other day, I had an epiphany. There are a handful of fantastic perks to living in one of the most Northern cities on earth.
1. Running red lights is acceptable
I’m starting with this one because of my epiphany. While attempting to break for a light just the other day, the intersection was far too icy and I slid right through the yellow light that quickly flashed to red. This is not uncommon. Fairbanks doesn’t use salt on their roads. They attempt to use rocks, but rocks on black ice doesn’t accomplish much. Instead everyone who lives here knows that when the light turns green, just wait a couple seconds longer to see if anyone is plowing through the light unable to slow down. This is convenient for reasons I’ll insinuate but won’t write down… (i.e. no one in this town ever misses a light!)
2. Bosses pity their employees in the winter months
My boss wants his employees to have good morale. When we get to work and it’s pitch black and we leave and it’s pitch black, and the sun doesn’t rise until after 10 am and sets again by 2:30 pm all of December and January…he understands long lunch breaks. He understands when we need to just get out of the office during the couple hours a day the feeble amounts of sunlight hit good ol’ Fairbanks.
3. The Aurora Borealis
Those gorgeous Northern Lights dance across the sky from September to March every year and can be seen at least once a week if you step outside in the chilly evening hours. There is nothing quite like that light show. Even though I caught glimpses of it growing up, Fairbanks’ view is the real deal.
4. No bugs/spiders/snakes
No nasty, creepy, crawly, hissing, six-legged, eight-legged, no-legged, slithering, scuttling, creatures from hell. If there’s one thing I hate more than colder weather – it’s bugs. I freaking hate bugs. And yes spiders and snakes fall into the bugs category and they’re equally disgusting and I hate them all. Shout out to Fairbanks for being the most bug-free place I’ve ever lived!
5. Everywhere is a parking spot
Back to #1 with the no salt thing, unlimited parking is also a wonderful consequence of a Fairbanks winter. No salt = no snow disappearing. Snow and ice builds up and suddenly everywhere you can imagine is a parking spot, and no one is parking like a jackass because you’re also parking like a jackass. Did I mention I’ve never actually had to pay for parking anywhere in Fairbanks? Small, frozen town perks.
There are other pros to winter of course! But the above list is exclusively for Fairbanks. This city might drive me absolutely freaking crazy, but I am thankful for it when I remember this short list.
Cheers to my much warmer, bug-infested friends!
“The bad news — nothing lasts forever.
The good news — nothing lasts forever.”
My emotions are fresh, and my heart is feeling particularly attached to a group of fictional characters so humor me as I pretend to be a television critic. Yes, this contains spoilers. I just watched it an hour after the West Coast (Fairbanks problems) so I’ll safely assume most anyone reading has already watched.
The series finale of How I Met Your Mother was not what I expected. At all. After marathoning 8 seasons of laughs on the couch with my husband in the bitter months of the Fairbanks’ winter, I was eagerly awaiting a drawn out episode of Ted’s initial meeting and marriage to his lovely wife and their happily ever after. I was awaiting the whole crew’s happily ever after. Ted to Tracey. Marshall to Lily. Barney to Robin.
It wasn’t quite happily ever after. Actually it was kind of heartbreaking. And a little too real. Yet, that’s what made it perfect.
1. Ted and Robin divorce. We spent an entire season preparing for their marriage and then they get a divorce. It felt like a bit of a slap in the face. Until you realize that, that happens. People spend years preparing for a wedding and a marriage that inevitably fails. I glanced at a few reviews saying this completely ruined the development of Barney and Robin’s characters.
Uhm. Not really.
They’re both really selfish people. Through all nine seasons. Once they get married, we of course want it to perfect! But their characters are still selfish. Robin is career, not family orientated. Barney is still absorbed with his affluent, bachelor lifestyle. That didn’t go away before they got married, and it wasn’t about to go away after.
2. Marshall hates his job. This struck a chord in my own heart because of my own personal fears of hating the long term job I get stuck in. But that also happens. People hate their jobs for years and years. That doesn’t make them bad people or less accomplished because they didn’t “follow their passion”. Obviously he provides for his ever growing family and does what he needs to do to be happy when he’s home with his family.
3. They all lose touch and slowly grow apart. This one is sad. Devastating really (can you tell I cried through the whole episode?). But all of us can picture people throughout our lives we were once as close with and now consider strangers. It’s part of life. Certain people only need to be in your life at certain times. Sometimes those people come back for solely the “big moments” as Lilly puts it. Sometimes they don’t. That’s life.
4. Ted’s wife is dead when he’s telling the kids the story. Sob. Sob. Sob. But also real. Don’t take moments for granted. Obviously Ted never did. From the minute he met the gorgeous, goofy bass player he fell madly in love with her and loved her with everything he had up to her dying day. I think that’s a beautiful love story even if we all want to hate it. I do wish we would have had more time to mourn her awesome character, but we did only have an hour to see what happened to all of them.
5. Barney has a baby with a stranger. Again. With two play books, I think this was bound to happen eventually. Robin couldn’t change him, but a baby can.
6. Ted’s kids realize the whole story is to point out how much Ted still loves Robin. Sorry Robin/Barney shippers, or Robin and anyone besides Ted shippers, but first loves run deep. Deeper than deep. People remember their first kisses, their first loves. Just because feelings always exist doesn’t mean they don’t love the one they meet and marry even MORE. I think it’s unrealistic to think Robin and Ted getting together again is impossible or as many on Twitter liked to call it – an April Fool’s Joke. The man spent six years alone raising his kids and was nostalgic for one of the first women he’d fallen in love with. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be an epic love like what he had with the mother of kids. It’ll probably just be a mutual, loneliness-avoidance kind of love. But is that so wrong? For Ted to be happy again, in whatever manner that may be, after the loss of his wife?
One of my favorite tweets to sum the episode was simply: Life is messy. Life IS messy. How I Met Your Mother was a ton of laughs for nine seasons, but always fairly messy. It showed a group of friends go through life’s ups and downs. The series finale stayed true to that theme.
Personally, I thought the ending was pretty darn legendary.
“It was at times a long difficult road. But I’m glad it was long and difficult because if I hadn’t gone through hell to get there, the lesson might not have been as clear. See kids, right from the moment I met your mom I knew: I have to love this woman as much as I can as long as I can, and I can never stop loving her, not even for a second. I carried that lesson with me through every stupid fight we ever had, every 5 a.m. Christmas morning, every sleepy Sunday afternoon, through every speed bump, every pang of jealousy or boredom or uncertainty that came our way, I carried that lesson with me. And I carried it with me when she got sick. Even then, in what can only be called the worst of times, I can only thank God. Thank every God there is or every was or will be and the whole universe and anyone else I could possibly thank. That I saw that beautiful girl on that train platform, and that I had the guts to stand up, walk over to her, tap her on the shoulder, open my mouth and speak.”
— Ted, How I Met Your Mother
This is home.
It’s where the love of my life is, where I go to bed each night, and where I go to work each day. It’s where I sweat out the stress of the day at the gym and come home to cook dinner with my love. It’s where we cuddle and watch Netflix or Hulu during the week, and where we ride ATV’s, hike mountains, and fish on the weekends.
It claims my time and a piece of me each and every day. At first, I was scared. Terrified honestly. This place couldn’t be home. This small city in a valley, this little starter apartment, all these people who notice I hold the my letter A’s longer than needed (I give them the attention they deserve) and don’t wear rugged-enough attire. I was appalled at the idea that this could be home.
But it is; I know that now.
The great thing? This is home, too.
It’s where my family is and where I made every single significant memory for the first 18 years of my life. It’s where I learned to ride a bike, mowed the lawn every weekend for an endless number of summers, and where I invited a countless number of friends over for birthday parties. It’s where I have spent hours at the kitchen table laughing with my parents and where I have imitated my older sisters every actions. It it equally important as my home now. Equally so because the people that make it home are permanent staples in my life, just as my husband is.
My favorite thing about “home” is has never been a place so much as the people that make it so. I don’t have to choose. Heck, if we’re getting really specific, this is indeed home too:
However brief my time in Minneapolis, the city affected me deeply. It changed my life in those three years and the people I met will have a lasting impact on me.
That’s what home is to me:
A moment in time that impacted me so greatly, the people and the location have made it an everlasting “home”.
I love my homes. All three of them. They have made me who I am today.
At the moment, Fairbanks may be my favorite. Mostly because it’s where my story is unfolding today; in this very moment. But also because I get to spend my days chasing my dream and my nights cuddled up to this guy making faces like this.
“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald