Islands

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“I feel we are all islands – in a common sea.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I saw a variation of the above quote the other day as I walked through town. “We are all just islands in a common sea” was painted on the window of the mail depot, accompanied by whimsical depictions of bright striped fish, and it made me pause. At first glance, I disagreed with this assertion, that we are separate bodies of land floating in a shared sea. I feel, I know, that we are more connected than that. I thought, “No man is an island.

But then I considered how islands are formed, from the shifting of continents and sand, and how they are often connected to other islands or even to the mainland if you look beneath the water. We, as islands, may appear to be isolated entities, separate in our individualism, but if you look below the surface, we are in fact connected to something greater than ourselves alone.

Perhaps it was how Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s quote was worded when I saw it painted on the window that skewed the message for me, or perhaps it was the mood I was in at that moment. I am willing to guess that when Lindbergh said she felt we are all islands in a common sea, she intended that we are joined to one another in our humanity.

Before I go further: you might be thinking, Who is Anne Morrow Lindbergh? I must admit that I didn’t know who she was, that when I looked up the message from the window and saw her name attributed to the quote, I had to delve a bit deeper to discover that she was an American author, aviator, and the wife of Charles Lindbergh, the aviator whose baby was kidnapped and killed in the 1930s.

Lindbergh was a prolific writer, who wrote everything from essays to poetry, and though she and her husband seemed to live a glamorous lifestyle, jetting off to exotic locales, they suffered tragedy. I doubt that a woman who traveled the world and spent much of her life examining and writing about the lives of American women would believe that human beings are essentially separate from one another.

To believe that we are separate, that each person is an island unto themselves, is to perpetuate one of the problematic belief systems that plagues our country today: otherness. This is an age-old fear, the fear of people who appear to be different from ourselves. But this fear has been flamed as of late, and it is now running rampant, causing a collective sickness. The current presidency came to be as a direct result of this fear-mongering. When we view people in terms of their differences, and this difference is cloaked in a negative shroud, then it is easy to see our fellow human beings as inaccessible islands, here on earth but far beyond our reach.

I believe that yes, of course we are all different, but we are also all the same. We come from the same place, we are all magically yet scientifically descendant from stardust, we all yearn for the same basic things: food, shelter, love, respect, purpose. And what makes us different, whether it be the color of our skin or the language we speak or the food we eat, are some of the many wondrous aspects of life as a human being. In our short lives here on earth, we have the chance to discover new cultures, to learn from their wisdom. As human beings, we have the privilege of encountering so many opportunities, one of the most beautiful being the possibility of empathizing with others.

But why? Why should we learn from and empathize with others? Though the answer seems pretty obvious to me, the current state of our country, our world, unfortunately says otherwise. We should care about “other,” “different” people because this care enriches our own humanity. We should care because we all come from the same speck of stardust. Because we are all linked, biologically and beyond. If we recognize this, a more peaceful, holistic world becomes more attainable.

A holistic world is a world with no suffering (by the hands of others), no war, no poverty. When we see our fellow human beings (and animals and land while we’re at it) as parts of a whole, when we look below the tides of the ocean to see that these apparent islands are connected to the mainland, the ideas of otherness and separatism, the modes of division and fear, hate and greed — they no longer function. How can a war over territory, over religious beliefs, or over money be plausible when we are all remnants of the same universal fabric?

So what does “I believe we are all islands – in a common sea” mean? Does it simply mean that we are all separate but living on the same planet? Even if Lindbergh meant only this, which I doubt, the simple reality that we are all living on the same planet is reason enough to take a step back from the fear and the hate that has bloomed like weeds across America. How could it possibly be that we all exist on the same planet, yet we have no relation to anyone other than our immediate families?

If Lindbergh meant that we may appear to be separate but we are all actually comprised of the same essence — that we all originate from the same sand and bedrock and volcanic ash, that the sea that surrounds us is not only home to all of us but also the womb from whence we all came — then to hate or fear another person is not only a fallacy, it is madness.

The definition of madness, of insanity, is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. So, why do we keep doing the same thing over and over again, the killing and the oppressing, the attempts to snuff out human life, and somehow keep envisioning an outcome that is not horrific and backwards? As we have seen throughout human history, the ends will never justify the means.

We are meant to believe that the ends justify the means when the “good guys” defeat the “bad guys.” But this categorization in and of itself is the problem. When we first defined one group of people as good and another as bad, we created the split, the idea that each man is an island, that we are all merely individuals, that the world is full of random instances and that nothing is connected to anything else. And where has this belief gotten us? It has created a world of class distinction, race, and countless other societal constructs that keep some of us out and others of us in.

We were all bestowed with unique gifts when we were born, this I believe, but I also believe that we are all essentially the same. We all want, no, need, love. We all wish for a better world for our children or our loved ones’ children to grow up in. We all suffer. We all seek happiness. And those of us who do not know this truth, that we are one and the same, are sick. They are sick because they are isolated. Whether this isolation is in a gilded cage or the prison cell of a broken mind, it is a sickness that they cannot see beyond. The remedy for this sickness is, of course, love. But the remedy also requires more than that. Our world is, unfortunately, not so easily managed.

The remedy for the sickness of separatism is the pursuit of knowledge, the disembowelment of ignorance. Ignorance is a dark, fertile breeding ground for hate; the sun does not shine there. But the sun can shine if the thickets of underbrush are willfully removed. When I say the pursuit of knowledge, I don’t necessarily mean going back to school to get your degree (though if you want to, more power to you; I believe education is paramount. It’s the institution of our educational system that is another topic). Knowledge can be obtained in many different places.

Knowledge is at our fingertips, or it may appear to be on the horizon, but it is always within our sights. It resides in books, and not just history or science books, but also in fiction, volumes of poetry, essays. It resides in the traditions and languages of cultures that differ from our own. It resides in nature, in the stars and the planets above us, in the blades of grass below our feet. Knowledge is all around us, it is a part of us. Just as our cells function on their own, with no dictation from us, wisdom — which is our privilege as human beings to discover — inhabits our very selves, below the surface. It is simply waiting to be realized.

I wish you a wild, free life.

Outside

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Definitely not a glamorous photo, but perfect in my opinion ❤

Do you ever feel tired of thinking about your own stuff all the time? Like what’s happening in your life, where you may be headed, if things will turn out the way you hope? Constantly thinking about what ails you; stress, work, health, whatever it may be, can get . . . kinda boring, right? Though I think it’s important to take care of yourself, to take stock of where you are, to always seek the best ways to improve, sometimes looking outside of yourself can be a reprieve from the questioning voice that resides within all of us.

This weekend I was presented with an opportunity to get outside of myself, to do something out of the norm, to take action. Action can often be the best thing for us, an invitation to change our perspective, to enable that sometimes-elusive feeling of gratitude, to be in the moment. Yoga often does this for me, encouraging me to move more and think less, to invite clarity where before there was doubt or confusion, but doing yoga most days out of the week can sometimes put me into autopilot mode, rather than granting me a new mode of focusing. So when my sister asked me to join her for Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week 2017, I said yes.

I said yes though I was still a bit fatigued after being sick for what felt like the tenth time since this new year started. I said yes though it meant I would be getting up at 6:30am on one of two days off. I said yes for many reasons, but most of all I said yes for my sister.

You see, my sister and her family will be the recipients of a Habitat home within the next year, a life-changing event that has been months in the making, and volunteering alongside my sister and her husband meant that I would be contributing to their “sweat equity” hours. These few hours out of my Saturday would contribute to my sister’s 500 hours, the amount of hours each Habitat family must complete as part of the conditions for receiving a home. And it was Women Build Week! Habitat for Humanity’s website defines this national event as a “program [that] invites women to devote at least one day to help families build strength, stability and independence through housing. The week is meant to spotlight the homeownership challenges faced by women.” What could possibly be a better way to spend my Saturday?

I will admit that I also said yes for selfish reasons, to have an excuse to forget about my own concerns. I’ve been having concerns about my health as of late; I’m okay overall (other than my health issues that I wrote about in a previous post you can read here), but I used to never get sick, and recently I have gotten really sick — the flu, strep, strep again, bronchitis, a fever with unexplained swelling of my extremities — about once a month. I couldn’t help thinking, Is something wrong?

Which resulted in blood labs and testing, which resulted in: “elevated liver function” and “low potassium levels.” Another way of saying, We don’t know. So though I’m relieved I don’t have lupus, which an insensitive doctor casually mentioned I might have during a rushed visit the other week, it’s frustrating to not have conclusive, actionable results. I’ll hopefully know more when my further test results come in, but in the meantime, I needed an excuse to get out of my head and out into the world.

I believe that helping others is one of the most significant things we as human beings can do in this life, and I continually strive to keep my faith in humanity, to believe in the goodness of others. But these times here in America have been pretty dark lately, what with a certain person in power and many people struggling to simply survive, and it’s been all too easy to lose hope, or to become ambivalent.

But this Saturday reminded me that there are good people in this world, and that even seemingly small actions, actions that could be deemed as just a drop in the bucket, can accomplish more than we think. Taking action is better than doing nothing at all, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, and drops in a bucket, over time, can result in the bucket filling up to the point of overflowing.

I definitely felt an overflowing this weekend. I felt connected to people I didn’t know, felt the strength that emanates from numbers, experienced the joy of contributing to something greater than myself. I got to witness the adorable family who will receive the home when it’s finished, heard inspiring speeches, did landscaping alongside strangers and my family. I hammered nails and shoveled mulch. I felt the sun on my face, got my hands in the dirt. And though anyone who knows me will tell you that I am decidedly not a gardener, as someone who works at a desk most days, nothing could’ve been better.

My sister, her husband, myself, and the other volunteers that day helped to create a home for a family, and soon my sister’s family will receive a home of their own. All I could think was, What a privilege. I was and am so very humbled and grateful to have been able to take part in such an awe-inspiring event. And though selfish it may sound, working to help other people in turn helped me. It helped me to gain some perspective, helped me to be in the moment, helped me to be grateful for all that I have in this life instead of focusing on what I don’t have or what is “wrong.” It may be taboo to admit, that I liked the way this made me feel for myself, but I like to think that if doing a bit of good for someone else does a bit of good for you, why not?

Needless to say, I will be volunteering again. I’m not sure exactly when, as I will be traveling a lot for work in the next few weeks and know that I need to take care of myself and rest as much as a I can, but I will make it a priority when I am able. I’ve said many times here on A Wild, Free Life that taking care of yourself is the only way you can take care of other people, but I also know that sometimes fretting about yourself all the time gets old, and you gotta take some action. You gotta get outside, both figuratively and literally, and get your hands in the dirt.

P.S. I highly recommend taking a look at Habitat for Humanity’s website to find out how you can get involved. Or, if building, painting, or working in their store isn’t your thing, I encourage you to check out a cause that speaks to you to see how you can contribute. Life is short. And no matter what the powers that be may believe, we’re in this life together.

I wish you a wild, free life.

This Is Thirty

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This is thirty

So this is it. I’m thirty now. I’m officially an adult, supposedly. People keep asking me how it feels to be thirty and honestly, it doesn’t feel any different. My life is definitely different than it was just a short while ago, but I still feel about the same. Perhaps it’d be different if I hadn’t cleaned up my act, so to speak, almost two years ago. How my life is now has been two years in the making, not a miraculous overnight transition because now I’m an “adult.”

Yes, I do feel more mature, whatever that means, but I also feel pretty dang immature. I’m more grounded and responsible, somewhat, but I also feel much more curious and childlike. I’m definitely not a wise old sage now that I’m thirty, but I’m also not a girl who dances on the bar and gets sassy with anyone who tries to interfere with her good time. I feel a little immature in the way that I’ve been approaching the world, with my naivete about the recent election and the ways of this world, but I’d rather be childlike than a wizened cynic.

Cynicism used to be my forte, my way of maneuvering through life, always a raised eyebrow and a wry smile. It was much easier to be unimpressed than amused, quicker to scoff than to laugh. But then I quit booze and the cynicism I’d maintained for much of my adult life seemed to fall away, an item of clothing suddenly too large to fit into anymore. Though at first this sudden sea change threw me for a loop, I learned along the way to embrace it, to surrender. Much like I have surrendered to being thirty.

Thirty. To say it sounds old, to think it is surreal. But it’s also just a number, an arbitrary figure that supposedly dictates where I should be in life, what I should want, what I should do. The old picture of thirty that’s been ingrained in all of our millennial minds: kids, marriage, career, house. I’ve only been focusing on one of those things, my career, and it’s so new that I’m not quite “set” in it. I have a career now, something that’s rather surreal in itself. I have business cards, a fancy email signature, responsibility. But I feel like a kid at the same time. The idea of having kids? Laughable. Marriage? A house? Not too high up on my totem pole of goals.

I have goals for my thirties, but a lot of them are perhaps the goals of a twenty-year-old. I want to travel. I want to have more fun than I ever have. I want to dance on the regular. I want to go to more concerts and meet new people. If that sounds immature, I’ll take it. Maybe because I went to college in my mid twenties, a time when you’re “supposed to” be done with school, unless you’re going to grad school, is the reason for these goals. A lot of friends my age are getting married, buying houses, having babies. And more power to them! That’s just not where I’m at right now. And that’s okay. More than okay.

I’ve surrendered to my version of thirty looking perhaps wildly different from the version of my counterparts. I’ve embraced the idea of being a little more free than those with mortgages and diaper changes. My version of thirty entails a concern with mostly just me. A concern for expanding my own horizons and having more adventures. Also concern for building and fortifying my fledgling career, of learning more about the industry I work in and making connections in this new world. But mostly a concern for living as wildly and as freely as I can within the constraints of working a 9-5 job. This is all new terrain for me, which can be a little scary because it’s unknown, but the fact that I am thirty is not what’s scary to me.

I say this because there seems to be a fear that surrounds the age of thirty, an idea that once you’re thirty the fun is over and full adulthood sets in. An idea that you have to let your dreams go or that if you haven’t achieved your dreams by now, then you probably never will and you’re a loser. That if you aren’t married with children or well on your way to that life, something is wrong with you. I disagree. The only thing that could be wrong with being thirty is that if your life isn’t what you, truly, as an individual, want your life to be. Or knowing this and succumbing to this idea of the “right” way to live, to either beating yourself up and spinning down a guilt spiral or putting your dreams aside.

The dream of traveling the world doesn’t have to be a pretty idea up on a shelf that you look at wistfully but never take down because it seems too high to reach. The age of thirty doesn’t mean that you have to have a child right now because you’re settled down and it seems like the appropriate time to do it. The age of thirty doesn’t mean that you should own a house by now and that if you don’t, you’re a hopeless mess. The age of thirty means that you are now in a place where you can take stock of your life thus far, see what hasn’t worked for you, see what’s working for you now, and take it from there. Thirty’s when you begin to feel at home in your body, when you begin to lose some of the insecurity and fear, when you begin to become more settled and free simultaneously. At least, that’s my view of thirty.

I feel settled in having a new career, in going after what I want and working hard to get there. I feel more free because the doubt and fear of my teens and twenties is dissipating into the air like mist. I know that I will never be doubt-and-fear-free, I’m human after all, but the worries of what others think, the doubt in my own capacity and character? Going, going, gone. The fear that I will never be good enough? Gone. I will be as good as I can be, which is pretty damn good because I’m trying my best and I quit the thing that was holding me back from doing any good at all. So I feel a settled freeness, a free settledness, and this is what I associate with being thirty. Not a fear of wrinkles and a doubt in myself because I don’t have the house, the car, the marriage, the kids. This is thirty.

I wish you a wild, free life.

 

New

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I don’t know about you, but I was more than ready to say goodbye to 2016. Okay, that sounds pretty dramatic. And I can see (now) that it wasn’t completely horrible, but it definitely was bittersweet. Quite a few chapters ended, many of them unexpectedly, and they closed so quickly it nearly made me dizzy. I barely had a chance to catch my breath; I had to keep going.

I started a new job at the same time that my boyfriend of many years and I parted ways. Not only was I beginning a new career, I was also moving out of my old home and into a new one. As I adjusted to 9-5 life, I also had to readjust to living with roommates. I had to adjust to not having someone waiting for me when I got home, asking me about my day. I had to learn to be alone again. Needless to say, this was a lot.

But I also gained the beautiful experience of living with two other women, of fortifying bonds of friendship, sharing stories and space. I gained an opportunity to rediscover who I am in a new way. This rediscovery began when I gave up drinking nearly two years ago, but I was also in a relationship at the time, a relationship that defined me in many ways. Without the definition of a relationship, my identity once again altered shape. Though painful, it was necessary. I had to find out how to stand on my own two feet.

After such a whirlwind of activity, I was more than ready to start a new year. To welcome whatever was in store for me. But when my New Year’s Eve plans fell through at 11:30pm, leaving everything up in the air, I wasn’t feeling so welcoming. Midnight was a half hour away and suddenly my friend and I were planless; I worried that 2017 was going to be more of the same. But rather than give up, we decided to go and try to see our friend’s band. We knew it was most likely sold out, but we thought we’d give it a try. Sure enough, the venue was sold out. What to do?

It was ten minutes to midnight. We were out of options and didn’t want to spend the countdown to the new year standing outside near a heat lamp. So we headed across the street to the nearby dive bar, the Lucky Star. We’d had some fun nights at Lucky Star, where they host karaoke on Friday nights, but had stopped going when one of our friends was injured by a drunken a-hole. Here went nothing.

We walked into the bar and, once again, everything changed. Suddenly New Year’s Eve went from disappointing to something else entirely. Sometimes things change in the blink of an eye, like my life did last year. Only this time, nothing fell apart. I saw someone when my friend and I walked into the Lucky Star. I saw him and he saw me. Sometimes things happen so fast you don’t know what hit you. Sometimes it’s like you’re meant to walk into a dive bar at five minutes to midnight. Just when you’re least expecting it, everything can change.

You can shy away from this, from the sudden turn that almost leaves you breathless. Or you can quit overanalyzing everything and just lean into it. You can try to ignore the signs and write them off as coincidence. Or you can decide to listen to whatever it is that seems to be telling you something. You can tell yourself that it’s too soon, too fast. Or you can see the signs and attempt to follow them, to find out what’s in store for you, to let the story unfold. To trust that everything happens as it should.

So that’s what I did. I decided to enter 2017, a new year, by following the signs that seemed to have been placed before me, by surrendering to whatever outcome. It could end badly, but who knows? You don’t know unless you try. And if 2016 taught me anything, it’s that no one knows what the future holds.

I wish you a wild, free life.

Lucky

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Looks real, doesn’t it?

You’ve come to know the fortunate and the inauspicious stars, but you don’t know whether you yourself are fortunate or lucky. — Rumi

I’ve been thinking about luck lately. About being lucky or unlucky, rolling the dice, the concept of fate. About looking at life with a sense of good fortune or looking at life and seeing everything that is wrong with it. How much is up to us? How much is out of our hands?

I was in Las Vegas for a long weekend this month, where luck, in one form or another, is on nearly everyone’s minds. Las Vegas, the land of lights and booze, noise and shiny surfaces. Short days and long nights. Jackpots and empty pockets. It was quite the experience, to say the least.

I thought about luck as I walked through the casino and heard the shouts and laughter when someone won. I thought about luck as I walked down the strip at night and saw huddled figures in doorways and on cold, concrete steps. How much of this was luck?

I didn’t know if luck was on our side or not when my friends and I missed our initial flight to Las Vegas. Or when we drove through a pothole late one night on the way home and got a punctured tire and didn’t get back to the hotel until 6:30am. But then I saw people sleeping in the freezing cold, while I got to go back to a warm room.

Vegas unexpectedly shifted my perspective. Of course I had fun, dancing until 4am, seeing what there was to see. But it was all so… empty. The glittering lights looked gaudy in the light of day. The music in the club would eventually stop and the lights would come on and the moment was over. I felt lucky that I got to go home on Sunday, that this was not my life. I felt lucky for the life I do have.

Before Vegas, I wasn’t feeling so lucky. I was looking forward to the trip, to getting out of dodge, to shaking it up and letting loose. I had been working a lot, it’s a busy time in the industry I work in, and I felt burned out. I wasn’t feeling grateful or lucky when I woke up in the morning. I just felt tired. So Vegas, where I’d never been before, was beckoning.

But after the dizzying lights and smoke, the juxtaposition of Teslas and cardboard structures on the strip, I felt lucky to return home, where life feels… full. Real. Overwhelming at times, stressful yes, but real. And I realized that escaping from reality never works. But at least it can serve as a reminder. That we’re lucky.

We’re lucky to live, even if we’re stressed or overwhelmed. And I’m lucky to live in a place that’s more than shiny surfaces and loud noises. Where I look out the window and can see trees, not skyscrapers and billboards. I’m lucky that I’m not sleeping in a doorway in freezing temperatures. I also consider myself lucky that I’m not gambling all my money away on an intangible dream. But what’s luck, anyway? Did I get here because of luck or something else?

That’s what keeps me thinking. Why some of us are sleeping in doorways and others are driving Teslas down Las Vegas Boulevard. Why some of us look out and see trees and others wake up and see trash in the gutter. How much is luck? Bad luck? I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I don’t want to take any of it for granted. And I also know that trying to escape my reality never works for me. Yes, it’s fun to dance all night, and I am a wholehearted advocate of doing so, but eventually the music stops. And then what? Next time I take a vacation, I’m sure I’ll dance, but next time I want to see the stars.

I wish you a wild, free life.

A-Z

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I can’t believe it, but I’ve been writing A Wild, Free Life for over a year now. And I realized that I still don’t have a mission statement, a manifesto. What’s it all about? Why do I write (almost) every week?

Do you ever mean to write yourself reminders so you don’t forget what seems true and important and real? I do. And I always somehow seem to forget. Not just the reminder, but the writing down part (and I’m a writer!). So on this rainy day I thought, Why not now? And, Why don’t you write it A-Z so you don’t overthink it? Here’s what I came up with:

A: Ask yourself. Ask what? Everything. What’s your motive? Why do you feel this way? Or, my current favorite: Why not?

B: Baffle yourself. What’s the scariest thing you can think of? Got it? Now go do it. Whether it’s driving into San Francisco by yourself or bungee jumping, the fear won’t go away unless you try it. And once you do try it, you’ll wonder what you had been so scared of in the first place.

C: Care for yourself. After jumping off that cliff or parallel parking in the mean streets of the city, care for yourself. Get yourself a cup of tea or go for a walk. Curl up in a puddle of sunshine on your bed in the middle of the afternoon and take a nap (I just did this; amazing).

D: Don’t forget who’s in charge. And that’s you. You’re in charge. Of yourself and your life. You’re not happy with something? Change it. You’ve always wanted to do something? Do it. No one’s stopping you but yourself. Get out of your own way.

E: Evolve everything everyday. The only constant in this life is change. Lean into it, embrace it, go with it. It’s unsettling, but it’s also the only way. And like Cheryl Strayed said, “Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.” Who you were yesterday is different from who you are right now. How cool is that?

F: Forget it. Forget that past idea you had about yourself. Forget the walls you built that had a purpose last year but serve no purpose now. Forget the openness you thought you had to maintain when it leaves you too bare. Forget the notions and the judgements. Just be yourself.

G: Go for it. Go for it with gusto. Go for the “weird” or “stupid” idea. Go for the “wrong” person. Go for whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to try but have put off because of laziness, fear, insecurity, inertia. The person who doesn’t look good on paper could be a kindred spirit. The weird idea, that poetry slam or the skateboard, could be your calling. Or it could just give you plain old silly joy. Either way.

H: Help out. Help out when you can, where you can. Help your mom on a Sunday even if you’d rather be eating brunch. Help your friend plant her garden even if your thumb is more black than green (like mine is. I somehow manage to kill every plant I touch). And the motive can be selfless or even a little selfish: so you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t matter as long as you do it with good intentions. Altruism for the win.

I: Imagine more. More than you first imagined. More than you thought you deserved. Imagine that you deserve everything and nothing. Imagine world peace. Imagine a friend. Just don’t let your imagination die.

J: Joke around. We all take ourselves way too seriously. What, are we curing cancer? And even if we are (props to you, you’re amazing!), life is silly and crazy and hysterical. Joke about yourself, tell stupid knock-knock jokes (just no racist jokes. I don’t care if you make them about everyone. We don’t need anymore of those).

K: Kill it. Kill the doubt, kill the fear. Kill it at your job. Kill it at life. Kill it = put your best effort in all the time, every time. Kill it = like you mean it. No half-assing. No wishy-washy. No maybe/maybe not. Just kill it.

L: Love. Love it all the way. Love something every day. Love your sneakers that no one else likes. Love that woman who just cut you off on the road. Love whatever seems like it doesn’t get enough love. Love that hateful guy spewing utter nonsense on TV because the world needs more love, less hate. Love the rain, love the sun, love the moon and the stars. Why not?

M: Meet. Meet someone halfway. Meet yourself where you are. Meet friends for coffee. Meet a new person whom you’ve never met and may not like. Meet the neighbor down the road who plays the loud annoying music. Meet someone new, meet someone old. The point is to connect. It’s why we’re here.

N: Nope. Say it more, say it when you’d say yes and regret it. A party when you want to sleep? Nope. A date with someone you’re not feeling? Nope. Say it soon and say it with integrity and respect. But say it if you’re feeling it.

O: Open-mouthed wonder. Shock and awe. Cultivate it, nurture it. The wonder and the curiosity we innately have as children seems to dissolve as we age; reverse it. Get more awe-ful, more excited, more imaginative. This planet is a magical, awe-inspiring thing. So why pretend like it’s boring? Why be too cool for school? That’s what’s boring.

P: Please. Say it. And Thank You. To your server or yourself or make your kid say it. People don’t say it enough. Please.

Q: Quit. Quit frowning all the time. If you’re pissed off, fine, but otherwise I don’t get it. Quit faking. Quit whatever no longer serves. Quit if you’re over it. Quit if you gave it your all and you’re tired of trying. Quit it if it hurts too much. Just give it 100% before you do or you’ll regret it. Or quit quitting everything. Quit quitting sugar and coffee and meat and dairy and cheese — unless you have medical issues (see this; I feel your pain). But if you don’t? Ask yourself why you’re quitting so many things.

R: Rest. Rest up. Rest easy. Rest. I’m sure you could go all night like the Energizer bunny. I’m sure you can hang, you can handle it. But burnout is real. And burning out is not fun, pretty, cool, practical. You burn out and you get sick. You get sad. You struggle. So get some sleep!

S: Simplify. Simplify your life, streamline the process. Clean out your closet or your car if that helps. Cut out the needless stuff that exhausts you, the people who sap your energy. Perhaps reconsider some of the “it’s complicated” relationships. Complicated does not equal stimulating. The drama and the arguments, the clutter and the mess; it’s gone. Doesn’t that feel better?

T: Tread lightly. It’s easy to get caught up. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re purging the closet, cutting out the a-holes, sweeping up the dust. Tread lightly when it comes to people’s feelings. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t become an a-hole yourself. Being straightforward does not give you license to beat someone down. Including yourself. Would you ever call a friend fat? No? Then why would you say that to yourself?

U: Understanding. Attempt to understand what seems completely different or wrong or weird. Understand the motive behind your actions. Understand that even though you might not understand, you’re trying. Understand that everyone is the same but different. Understand that your experience is not necessarily mine or hers or his. Understand that this is okay.

V: Verify. Verify the validity of what that “guru” is saying. Verify the voices in your head and if what they’re saying is true. Verify yourself and your self. You feel like what you say doesn’t matter? Why? You feel like you know everything? Verify that. Is it true? Says who?

W: Wing it. Quit over-thinking everything and just wing it. Wing it with intention but wing it. Scrap the outline, toss the notes. There’s no blueprint for life. You plan and the outcome might disappoint you. You plan and pursue and then you get what you want and it looks completely different from what you thought it would look like. Loosen the reins a little bit.

X: X = 10. Think of ten things you’re thankful for. Doesn’t have to be every day. But think about it. Maybe you can only think of one thing right now. That’s something. But shoot for ten, roman numeral X. The first double-digit number.  There’s something about the symmetry of the symbol that is perfectly complete, even. Round out your thankfulness.

Y: Yes. See letter N. Now think about what you always say no to. What you deny or avoid or put off because you’re scared or stubborn or judgemental. Now say yes and see what happens. Could be awful. Could be awesome. Try it and see.

Z: Zest. Zest for life. Hell, zest your salad while you’re at it. Add some flavor to your food, some excitement to your life. Enjoy what you can, where you can, when you can. Because life is fleeting. Because we’re here to feel. Because why the hell not? And how cool would it be to be remembered as the little old lady who “always had such zest for life”? I want that on my tombstone.

I wish you a wild, free life.

The End of an Era

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Looking at the horizon

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. — Anais Nin

The day has arrived. Tonight is my last night at the restaurant where I’ve worked for the past 12 years of my life. My first and only job that I’ve ever had! It’s the end of an era, the beginning of a new chapter. As one door closes, another door opens.

I knew that this day would come when I began college five years ago, when I finally took the plunge after a long hiatus from school. I knew that this day would come when I graduated school last year, when I interned at a publishing house and then interned again at a nonprofit. I was ready, have been ready. But I don’t think I have necessarily been prepared. I have looked back on my days at the restaurant that is like my second home, which you can read here if you missed it, but I have not really prepared myself for this final day.

Though I am eager to begin the next phase, the phase where I work Monday-Friday, 9-5:30, where I have weekends off like most everyone else, I am also nervous. Like palms-sweating kind of nervous. I am nervous because after yearning for this kind of existence, I do not really know what it will be like. It will be a transition, that much I know for sure. To go from working nights and weekends for the past 12 years to working a 5-days-a-week-in-a-row schedule will be new for me.

Yes, I have interned twice, so I’m not a stranger to this kind of grind, but I have also never been fully of the workaday world. I have been inhabiting two different worlds simultaneously for a long time. When I was in school, reading the Romantics and learning theory, I would still be at the busy restaurant at night, working fast and hard. When I was interning, arriving at the office by 7:30am in the attempt to avoid commuter traffic, I was also back at the restaurant at night, a participant in an endless flurry of activity, subject to the kind of frenetic energy only restaurant workers understand.

Now, beginning next month, I will be embarking on a journey to a new kind of life. A life where my evenings and weekends are mine and mine alone. A life where I go to bed early and rise early, where I sit at a desk, where I break for lunch. Though it sounds normal to so many, it’s completely foreign to me. Foreign and therefore exciting/frightening. But I will go into this new experience with an open mind, heart, and arms, ready and willing to try everything, to do my best, to give it my all. I may fail, but there’s no failure when you show up and try.

Of course I have done my best and given my all to the restaurant that I call home, where I have the utmost respect for my fellow coworkers and the establishment itself, but after 12 years the shifts tend to blur together, to become more of the same. Every night is different at a restaurant, where there’s no predicting what will happen and when, but when you’ve lit the same candles and walked the same aisles for so many years, it comes to seem like you could do your job in your sleep.

I used to be afraid of challenges, preferring to stay in the shallow end, to keep things safe, but when I started college five years ago, and especially over the past year and a half since I quit drinking, I began to relish challenges. Challenges keep life interesting, exciting. Challenges give you the opportunity to see what you’re made of, to become more flexible, to imagine different scenarios for your life, for everything.

Life is challenging by definition, an unknowable experience of trials and tribulations, and the avoidance of challenge itself, or the attempt to control the outcome, is fruitless. But knowing this does not keep us from trying to do so. But challenges force us out of our precious comfort zones, sweep our feet out from beneath us, throw us curveballs and taunt us into ducking or swinging. After ducking for most of my life, I want to be known as the girl who comes out swinging. I could swing and miss, it’s more likely than hitting a home run, but who cares?

I want to know that I tried, that I tested my resolve, that I stretched the boundaries of my life to accommodate new experiences, people, places, things. And though I will forever value the restaurant and my experiences working there, I know that if I continued to work there I would not be stretching my boundaries. I would definitely be testing my resolve, for that seems to be the definition of restaurant work, but I would not be stretching, growing, seeking. I would not be forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t be continuing in my unofficial pursuit to discover what it is that I am truly made of.

Our work, whether in an office or a restaurant, has value and meaning, and it must be meaningful to us on a personal level. It doesn’t matter if people think working in a restaurant is equivalent to being a servant. It doesn’t matter if people think working in an office is equivalent to being a slave. What matters is what we think of our work, if our work fulfills us in some or many ways. What matters is that we forge connections with ourselves and others, if we shake it up and shake it loose, if we keep ourselves on our toes so we feel alive.

This life may seem long at times, but it is also over much too soon. How we make money has meaning in this stretch of time. Whether we are clearing tables or entering data on a computer, we are working to afford ourselves necessities or, if we’re lucky, comforts. We are working to accumulate the money to pay our bills, or to go on vacation, to spend more time with our loved ones, to see more of the world. We are working because we have to, but we are also working because to work is to define our lives. Not all of us are working our dream jobs, but I’ve learned that even a dream job is just a stepping stone to the next goal, the next dream.

In our endless pursuit to find meaning in our lives, to put food on our tables, to live freely, to be happy, our work is an integral part of who we are. So we must work with integrity, with gladness, with gratitude and humility. We must work with the aim of bettering the experience, whether for ourselves or others or a combination of both. Because if we’re just “working for the weekend,” if we’re just working trying to get from point A to point B, we’re missing all of the beauty that accompanies us on the ride.

The beauty is the relationships we build with our coworkers, fellow employees who become friends or family members, who know us in ways that even our spouses do not. The beauty is the ability to discover new aspects of our very own selves, to be exposed to new situations and new people, which always shifts our staid world views. The beauty is to be.

With all of my searching and yearning for a new job, I’ve come to appreciate the one that was already before me, the one that has been with me through breakups, mistakes, triumphs, failures. As my final days drew near, bittersweet and surreal, I knew that I would miss the frenetic energy, the ups and downs. I already knew that I would miss my friends, my other family, my “work wives,” but I didn’t think that I would ever miss the controlled chaos of working “front of the house.”

Though I see that I will miss it, I am also looking forward to joining society out on a Saturday night, to seeing concerts and plays, to getting brunch without having to go home and get ready for work while everyone continues on with the fun. I am looking forward to seeing who I am in this new light, this new life, this next stage.

Though I know that I will be the same person, that my true self is unwavering and constant, I know that my customs and habits, my comforts and desires, will change shape in the light of this new world I will become a part of. I will be part of the 9-5 crew, I will dress differently, I will do new things and go to new places. Though unknown and therefore somewhat disconcerting, I am excited to see this new world. I am excited to see who I will become.

And with this becoming, I am gratified to know that I have a community of beautiful, funny, crazy, caring, insightful, surprising, well-known souls who have my back. And I only have to call or pop into the restaurant to see them. I think in my new life I might be the restaurant’s resident barfly who doesn’t drink, who comes in every week to shoot the breeze and catch up on the latest gossip or drama. I just can’t imagine my life without these people. I don’t want to.

I wish you a wild, free life.

Growing Pains

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Growing

What a wild ride the past couple of weeks have been. I have gone from living with a boyfriend and a dog to living in a house full of girls and cats. I have gone from looking at the world one way to looking at it quite differently. I have been reminded that there is a whole wide world out there, right outside my door, full of possibility and ready to be discovered. I can stay up late reading my book without disturbing anyone if I want to, I can listen to whatever music I fancy, I can watch “chick flicks” and period dramas and terrible movies like Magic Mike XXL (like I did the other night with my new roommate and close friend). I can go out to a bar, like I did last night, and drink water and actually have a good time because I’m with good people.

Good people. I’m so grateful for the good people in my life, the people who have stepped up and opened up, who have called or texted, who have taken me out or sat with me on the couch while I’ve cried. I’m humbled by the love and support I have received in my time of need, in one of my darkest hours of vulnerability and confusion. They have shown me that there is light on the other side, that when all of this is over, I’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

Though I know that the future is full of possibility, that doesn’t really change the present moment, the moment where I have a roof over my head but no bed or room to call my own (yet). The present moment is where I pull my clothes out of a hamper or a trash bag, where I dig around in my trunk trying to find a pair of shoes or go into the garage to look through boxes of stuff trying to find something random, like Q-tips or a pair of scissors. It’s the present moment that humbles and grounds me, but it is also the present moment that makes me mad. Really mad.

It’s not fair that I have to sift through bags and boxes, trying to find my outfit for the day or my notebook that I was writing in. Well, I ask myself, who said life was fair? Who am I to complain when there are people out there in this wide world of possibility who have less than that? I try to look at the big picture, but it’s difficult to widen the purview when such drastic, tumultuous happenstance has turned your whole world upside down. Upside down and shaken around, where nothing makes sense and everything is in disarray. So what is fair? What and who can I rely on in this crazy time?

What’s “fair” is how I treat myself. These past couple of weeks have taught me that I can rely on myself, that I’ll come out the other side due to diligence, perseverance, and a little lightness. It’s time to buckle down, but it’s also time to lighten up, if that makes any sense. I’ve been making moves these past weeks, but I’ve also been lounging, reading good books, going out to eat, going to the pool or the river with friends, and having mini adventures when and where I can. I’ve been treating myself with care because that’s what I need right now. Just some care, some attention to my needs. What will make me feel good? What can I do to “release” when going on a boozy bender is not an option?

Not only can I treat myself with fairness, but I am also lucky to be surrounded by the good people I mentioned earlier. The people who have my back no matter what, who are proud of me, who know who I am and know where I’m going, even when I don’t know myself. The people who make me laugh or who ask questions that cut me to the core so I have to feel what I don’t want to. Because that’s what needs to happen, it’s what I’ve been working on for the past year: to feel, and feel fully. To feel it all. It’s not always pleasant, most of the time it’s not, but it’s important for me to do so. It’s important for the girl who used to drink a bottle of wine in lieu of feeling anything to feel her shit. And feel it all the way.

This might be unappealing to others, I know that from recent experience, but I don’t care. I’ve got to be honest and put it out there. With respect for others, of course, but also with respect for myself. I have to let it out with tact and care, but I have to say what I mean and mean what I say. What else is there in this crazy world? We have to speak up for ourselves, for each other, for what is right and good. We have to give a shit, to care about ourselves and the plight of other people. This caring can be tiring, but what’s the alternative? Sweeping it under the rug? Stuffing it down? That’s no way to live. And let me tell you, from past experience, it doesn’t work.

Whatever you’re ignoring, stuffing down, whatever it is that you are in denial about, it will come out. Only when it does finally come out, it will be mangled and rotten and worse than you ever thought it could be. It will have altered form and shape from being suffocated, from being trapped beneath the surface. It will be overwhelming, frightening, out of control. What’s the alternative? Hmm…. talking about it? Is talking about it really so bad? It used to seem that way to me. But not anymore.

And you don’t even have to talk about it that much, or right away, or to anyone, or even out loud. You can write it down instead, or talk to yourself. You can speak of it once and be done talking. You can go to a yoga class and leave it all on the mat. You can write a letter that you’ll never send, that you’ll burn or rip to shreds. You just have to release it, to have some form of outlet, to prevent the festering. But there’s nothing like talking out loud to someone you trust, to have them hold your fears alongside you, to hear you. It’s less lonely that way, but it’s not the only way to be heard, to release. To feel support from others is truly life changing, but to feel support from yourself will alter the very fabric of your existence.

I’ve had to learn how to emotionally support myself over the past year and even more so these past few weeks. I’ve had to learn how to listen, how to talk, how to release and let go. I’ve had to learn that resentment or anger feels better than sadness but is perhaps not as productive. But I can and should feel whatever I want, however I want, because at least I’m feeling my shit. As long as I maintain self-awareness, as long as I am aligned with respect and compassion for myself and for others, I can be an emotional mess if I need to be. Because life is messy. Feelings are messy. That’s just the nature of the beast. And pretending like everything is okay has never helped anyone. That’s one thing I know for sure. Pretending is something I am not interested in, not anymore.

I wish you a wild, free life.

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

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“As Goethe once observed, the great failing is ‘to see yourself as more than you are and to value yourself at less than your true worth.’” — Ego is the Enemy

Have you ever been so caught up in your ideas and dreams and belief in yourself that suddenly you realized you were being obnoxious? That you were talking and no one was listening? Or that people had heard you the first time but now, the fifth time around, maybe not so much? Or maybe you didn’t notice… and therein lies the problem. There is a fine line between self-belief, which is having security and belief in and for yourself, and self involvement, where you perhaps have too high an opinion of yourself. How does this happen? Where do we go wrong?

I finished reading a book this week that explores this idea, this slippery slope of self-esteem and the subject of the self. The book, entitled Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, investigates the many ways we can go awry when we drink our own Kool-Aid, so to speak. Holiday is a strategist and writer who has achieved many successes and garnered many accolades in his relatively short life. But he is also a human being, like we all are, who has experienced failures and missteps and made the kind of mistakes that we all do. The difference between Holiday and many other successful people is that he discusses his own failures rather than glosses over them. He also watched firsthand how the ego can demolish our dreams by rendering them unrecognizable.

We often start out small when we set out to achieve our goals, knowing that in order to climb a mountain we have to start at the bottom, to take the first step. We must learn to crawl before we learn how to walk. So when we do get lucky and perhaps get a taste of the “high life,” it often goes to our head. We got to the top because of our own hard work and nothing else, right? Or did we get to the top because of the love and support of our friends and family? Because of the variables of luck or education or connections? Or perhaps all of the aforementioned?

Regardless of how we make our way through this world, we must make our way maintaining our sense of self. Our true self, the self that yes, is unique and special, but is also like that of every other person on this globe. Our fingerprints are not like anyone else’s, that is true, but we are also all just fragile beings living on a planet in a universe that is beyond our comprehension. We are special but we are not the end-all-be-all. To think so would be ludicrous. But in this age of the internet and reality TV, anyone can be famous. It seems that the goal these days is to be famous, no matter the price.

Our success should not be measured by how many people follow us on Instagram or if we are on TV, but if we carry ourselves with integrity, humility, and respect for others. Our success should be measured not in our supposed “failures,” but how we transcend these failures or use them for good. As Holiday says in his book, “The only real failure is abandoning your principles.” When we abandon our principles, when we get caught up in the glitz and the glamour and the delusions of grandeur, you know what happens? We fail. And fail drastically.

We don’t just fail ourselves when we let our egos get out of hand, when our visions of ourselves and the future are allowed to run rampant. As Holiday illuminates, this failure of character can have catastrophic effects. It can sink entire companies, ruin marriages, lose games, destroy relationships, even cause death. The death of innocent people, of happiness, of innocence, of creativity. The ego is the enemy because the ego has no care for the outside world or for other people. The ego is only concerned with looking out for numero uno. Which could be seen as a self-preservation tactic. But you know what? Just looking out for yourself and making sure you get yours is not a good feeling. As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. Sure, you got fame and wealth, but where is your family? They walked out the door.

These examples from Holiday’s book can seem pretty extreme (though they are all culled from history), but I believe he uses them with a purpose. Because no one sets out to be a colossal a-hole. Success can get to our heads, tricking us into believing that we’re better than others. Success can cause us to ignore humanity in favor of profit margins, of enterprise and capitalism. But guess what? You can’t take it with you. That’s what I always think when someone is flashing their wealth or talking louder than everyone else:  you can’t take it with you.

When we transcend to the next phase, when we are on our deathbeds, will we be comforted by piles of cash or a huge mansion? No. Will we be comforted by our family or friends, by knowing that we endeavored to do our best and be of service? I wholeheartedly say yes. Because this life is not about who can amass the most wealth, prestige, fame, titles. I may not know very much about what it all means, but I do know that this life is about connection. Connecting with others, with our planet, with ourselves. Finding out who we are so we may cultivate a kind of self-awareness that nurtures compassion, empathy, love.

Self-awareness, not self-absorption. Yes, we must love ourselves and treat our bodies and minds with care and respect. But loving ourselves is different from loving the ego’s projections of ourselves. The ego is not fueled by respect or love. The ego is fueled by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of discomfort. Which is understandable. The unknown is scary, failure hurts, no one wants to be uncomfortable. But when we venture out into the unknown, when we are unafraid to fail, when we are okay with being uncomfortable? That’s when the magic happens. That’s when we forge true connections with ourselves and others.

Reading Holiday’s book this week was instrumental in my own self-inquiry and growth, for acknowledging my own fears and my own ego. It’s important to be aware of how we operate in this world. When we are aware, we can do our best, we can improve, we can endeavor to do and be better. And though I have grown more than I ever thought I could this past year, I still have a lot of growing to do. We all do. And when you think you don’t, that’s when you know it’s time to check your ego. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

This life is a constantly shifting experience, a mysterious encounter with ourselves and others, which is pretty wicked awesome when you think about it. The growing is never done. We will never have it all figured out. All we have to do is come from a place of dignity and respect, of care and curiosity. All we have to do is be unafraid to make mistakes, because mistakes make us human. We are not the coolest things since sliced bread. We are just people, people who are capable of love and honor and beauty. So let’s refrain from deluding ourselves into thinking we are better than we are. Let’s have love and faith in and for ourselves, but, as writer and speaker Gabrielle Bernstein says, “Don’t get high on your own supply.” I love that.

I wish you a wild, (ego-)free life.

 

Sisterhood

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A good-luck star from one of my “sisters”

Though I technically have one sister, who I am so lucky to have, I am also surrounded by a tribe of sisters, a sisterhood. I deeply value the company of these women whom I am privileged to call my friends. They are a varied bunch, an interesting mix of females who are not easily categorized. Some of them I have known since third grade, while others came into the fold about a year ago. Whether I met them recently or used to play with them at recess, they all add so much life to my life that I can’t imagine what living would be like without them. I am blessed to have a partner who has stuck by my side through the darkest of times, a man who I am lucky to call my best friend, but there’s nothing like being with the girls.

This morning I woke up to find a text on my phone from one of my girlfriends. We spent the day together yesterday, going to lunch and hanging out at her house before going to the yoga studio where she teaches an evening class. I woke up feeling a little out of sorts this morning, so it was uplifting to read her message:  That was a fun evening! Thanks for joining me. You’re a great friend and I love you. My spirits were immediately buoyed by her taking the time to let me know her feelings. Though I felt and feel the same as my friend articulated in her text, it was a great reminder to be more forthcoming with my girlfriends about my love and appreciation for them. And to let them know just because, without there being a reason or an occasion.

Yesterday morning I was surprised and delighted to get a phone call from a girlfriend who moved to Alaska last year. We are in the unique position of being able to keep track of one another’s lives via our blogs, as we are both writers who have decided to share our experiences, but there’s nothing like hearing someone’s actual voice on the phone. As we caught each other up, I imagined her walking through the woods as I sat on my patio in California. Though she was so very far away, hearing her voice created a feeling of closeness that I have missed with her being gone. I pictured her face as she laughed through the phone and could see her mischievous eyes and long blond hair.

My Alaska girlfriend is an inspiration to me, having thrown caution to the wind to move to an unfamiliar place in order to follow her heart. Right before she moved we had become closer than ever, really getting to know each other and revealing sides of ourselves that not many people see. I was heartbroken when she moved but also excited for her to embark on the journey of a lifetime. She is vivacious, brave, hilarious, and inconceivably beautiful. She’s one of those rare people who is as beautiful, if not more so, on the inside than she is on the outside. And I get to call her my friend! I know that we became closer because I truly allowed her in, because our burgeoning friendship occurred around the same time I decided to give up alcohol. I am grateful that she came into my life when she did.

Throughout the day yesterday I was also part of a group-text with two of my forever friends, my sisters who I’ve known since the third and fifth grades. Though we’re busy and don’t often have the time to see one another in person, we’ve unconsciously made up for this by keeping a continuous dialogue going via our phones. It’s funny because I often rue the day cellphones were invented; I so often see people together, in the flesh, but staring into their phone screens instead of interacting face-to-face. But I value being able to keep in touch with friends who are far away or who are busy. We share random information, photos, quotes, whatever pops up along the way that we think the others might find funny or enlightening somehow. It keeps us close when physical closeness isn’t possible.

I am grateful for my girlfriends because they let me be who I am, because they are supportive and beautiful and funny, and because they allow me to know them and be a part of their lives. They constantly astound me with their badassery, fearlessness, openness, kindness, love, curiosity, ambition; I could go on forever. They are unafraid to make their hopes and dreams come true, to keep fighting and striving when plans fall through, to ask questions and examine the “truths” of the world, to dance and sing like no one’s watching. I am constantly inspired by their collective fortitude, by their willingness to face their fears head-on and in turn help me face mine. There’s nothing they can’t do and that helps me remember that I can accomplish what I wish for myself, too.

It saddens me that so many women don’t value these kinds of relationships; yes, the relationships with our significant others are important, but friendships are forever. The mentality of competition — for men, for jobs, for perfection — amongst women is an outdated construct that needs to be dismantled. There’s plenty to go around, and fighting over men isn’t something women even do. We have more important shit to worry about, like if we’re on the right path, if we’re making a difference, if we’re following our passions. The relationships we have with other women are important because they give us the space to be ourselves. They give us the inspiration to realize our dreams and support other women in realizing theirs.

There’s strength in numbers, and I speak from experience when I say that when your girlfriends have your back, it’s like the world has your back. All any of needs is support, love, and the faith of those who love us. Faith in ourselves is paramount, but it is undoubtedly fortified by the faith of those who know us best. I would not be where I am today, right now, without that faith. So I thank each and every one of my sisters, and I hope that you have a sister or two in your corner to help you achieve the life you wish to see.

I wish you a wild, free life.