Friday, August 22, 2014

#FacingMyFears...Week Two is Through!

Week two of the 21 Day Face Your Fears Challenge is complete! I have done something that scares me every day for the past 14 days...7 days left to go to the finish line!

Day 8: Speak My Truth! I focused this day on saying what was on my mind, whether it was awkward or uncomfortable. I told people how I felt, I expressed a few concerns to my boss, I talked to my family, and I got in a couple of arguments on Facebook over social issues. The thing about speaking your truth, is that it gives you a voice. Don't shy away from that. People should know how you feel about them; if you want to spend all night snuggling them, tell them. If you are mad at them, tell them. If they are crossing a line or straddling a boundary, say that. It is my own responsibility to take care of myself mentally...but I cannot expect people to respect my boundaries if I have not laid them out.

Day 9: Shoot a Gun. This one was so awesome! I am one of the only people in my family who does not own a gun, who does not hunt, and who has actually never even touched a gun. I am not opposed to guns or to hunting, and I do appreciate knowing where my meat comes from when I eat dinner with my family, but I am not a hunter and have no interest in hunting. I do, however, believe that all women should know how to shoot a gun, and I am starting to feel more and more that all women should own a gun. Because despite any political fight I could get into with anyone, a gun is a very powerful thing. My fear of guns stems not from the control or the power they have, or from thinking they are dangerous or scary, but simply from the fact that if faced with one, I would have no idea what to do with it. So with this fear, comes applying for a conceal to carry permit and taking some gun safety classes down the road, but step one was to go out to Brown's Camp with Patrick and Juli, and to actually fire one. I shot a .22 rifle and a 20 gauge shot gun. And I loved it. It was exhilarating and exciting, and definitely a feeling of being in full control over everything around me. There will be more guns in my future, for sure.

Day 10: Get My Ass Back in the Gym. The hardest step to any fitness goal is the first one. That first time in a new gym, or that first class full of strangers who know what they're doing. I took a Zumba class on Monday night and I loved it. It was hard, it was fast, it was hot as balls. But I made it the whole hour without stopping, and I enjoyed it. And once I was there, I remembered that I love Zumba, and that nobody in the class made it through without a mistake. No big deal. As long as you're working hard and sweating, you may as well look like a damn fool doing it. Everyone there has the same goals, and no one there cares what I am doing.

Day 11: Sleep Naked. Read the blog about sleeping naked for more details. Just know that I have slept naked every night since. Because I am fucking hooked on sleeping naked.

Day 12: Get My Photo Taken With a Mascot. This one was pretty silly. I am afraid of mascots - things in costume with whom I cannot make eye contact. So at my company event (a movie in the park), I made sure to have my photo taken with my arm around a person dressed as ET. I hated it. ET is creepy. People in the park in costumes are creepy. But I did it. And it was a good, silly fear to face.

Day 13: Spend Time Alone in the Woods. Yesterday I took a drive through the Gorge, stopped for some views at Crown Point/Vista House, and then did a short, 2/3 mile hike to Bridal Veil Falls. It was quick and easy, with a gorgeous waterfall at the end. But the point wasn't to do some crazy hard strenuous hike; I am not afraid of those. The point was to spend a few hours by myself, off the phone, away from my wifi signal, and just enjoy some time alone. I took some gorgeous photos (but did not check Facebook or email til I got home), sat by the riverbed and listened to the waterfall and some music, and just hung out. It was great! It's a rare thing for me to be disconnected, especially intentionally, and I think it was really good for me.

Day 14: Register for a 5k. I hate running. I suck at it. It makes my knees hurt. I get shin splints. Every minute of it totally blows. But I know how good it is for me, and I have always wanted to run a 5k, just to say I've done it. So today, I registered for the Run Like Hell 5k, Portland's Halloween-themed run for Lupus. I signed up, I donated money, and I am already thinking of what Little Mermaid item I can wear the day of the event. I mean clearly I should run in a seashell top, right? This will be some great motivation for me to keep up with my fitness goals, knowing that I have to run 3 point something miles in just 60 days, and it will get me out of my box, where I just do Zumba and Body Pump because I love them.

With just one more week to go, I am excitedly making lists of fears to face...check back next Friday to see what I come up with for my final seven days!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Just Sleep Naked

I think it's safe to say that all women have body issues. We are raised in a society that pushes body issues onto us, from day one. We grow up as little girls with moms who call themselves fat in front of us. We read magazines full of air-brushed super models. Our boyfriends "read" porn full of naked air brushed models. Everything in the media - from television shows to magazines to movies to books - teaches women that we are not thin enough. No matter where we look, that's the message we are receiving: you're not skinny enough. This message results in women with serious body image issues.

I am no exception. Whether I am the smallest I have ever been, or the heaviest I have ever been, I don't always see in myself what other people see - or really, what is actually there. And women are like that.We have this unique ability to look in the mirror, and what is actually 5 foot 3, 125 pounds, we can morph into 5 foot 2, 500 pounds. We don't see reality, we see the image of our reality, and usually what we see is much worse. I've talked about this before, the way that my high school body was so tiny and yet I thought I was so fat, but I feel like it is such an important issue to talk about. And so I'm writing about it, yet again. 

As my regular readers are already aware, I was in an abusive relationship from August, 2009 until November, 2011...or, from when I was 26 until I was 28. My boyfriend was manipulative and emotionally hurtful, in addition to the times he assaulted me physically. During these two and a half years, my weight was all over the place, and I eventually ended up the thinnest I'd ever been - partly because I hated my home life so much that I spent hours at the gym every day to avoid going home, partly because food and calories burned were the only piece of my life that I was in complete control of, and also in part because my boyfriend - who had mind fucked me into thinking he loved me - was constantly telling me how disgusting I was. Being called disgusting by your boyfriend is something that will weigh on the way you see yourself, more than you may think. I was fairly convinced (at one hundred and five pounds, mind you) that I was disgusting.

There was a day about six months before we broke up, that he told me he hated to see me naked because I had tattoos - and he hated tattoos. There are a lot of things from our relationship that I remember pieces of, but there are things, and this instance was one of them, that are very distinct, precise memories. He said that I should be saving my money for tattoo removal because of how much he hated them, and a pretty big fight took place from there. He did not once ever see me naked from that day forward. I started sleeping in sweats and a tee shirt, I locked the door when I showered, and we never had sex again. Looking back on it now, this was the beginning of the end. This was when I started secretly looking at apartments on my days off, quietly packing items away in the back of my closet, and hiding money from him. Because there comes a time when you realize you cannot change permanent things about yourself to please someone, and his asking me to remove tattoos from my body was an eye opener.

The thing is though, about control and manipulation, is that it distorts the way you think. This day was not just the last time I let this boyfriend see me naked; this was also the last time I ever slept naked - alone or otherwise. The next guy I dated after breaking up with (as we call him) Lucifer, was a great guy, super nice, treated me very well...but I always slept in a tank top and underwear at his place. And before I went to therapy and figured it all out, I blamed it on just not liking to sleep naked - it just felt super uncomfortable. Of course now I know I was only uncomfortable because I was manipulated into hating myself. I've shared a bed with other guys since then as well, and I just can't sleep without at least my underwear on. I know, I's weird even just typing it.

So even though it seems so silly, my #faceyourfears challenge for today (day 11) was to sleep naked. And I did. I went to bed about 11:00 last night, sans the usual tank top and panties, and the minute my head hit the pillow, I was as comfortable as I've ever been, and I got a great night of sleep. When I woke up this morning, I wasn't uncomfortable or awkward; even though I was in bed alone and not with someone else, I think the whole point was that I needed the reminder that it's okay to be comfortable in my own skin.

My life is so much better now than it was three years ago, and not just for the fact that I am no longer with someone who destroyed me internally. I am surrounded by people who lift me up, who support me through my craziness, who challenge me, but most importantly who are invested in me for the person I am, not the person they want me to be. We all have flaws. We all have issues. We all have fears. What I am learning, is that the only way to become stronger, braver, and better is to face your fears head on. And in my case, sometimes it is as simple as taking off my clothes and hopping into bed naked, to sleep all night in my own room, under my own covers, where I feel safe.

Maybe I should add, sleep naked with someone else to my list of fears to face this month? Eh? Takers??

Monday, August 18, 2014

Stop Gushing & Get Real

Today's Writing Prompt: The person you like and why you like them.

I feel like I'm in junior high, about to gush to my diary about all the reasons I like this boy. And the funny thing is, much like in junior high, I probably could gush a little about him and all his awesomeness. Because when people are awesome, it's easy to gush.

But I'm not going to. Because I am not in junior high, and it's not how I roll.

The thing with gushing, is it's not real. When you run down a list of ridiculous qualities that you love about a person, like their eyes or their arms or their abs or their ass, or the way they sound when they laugh or how they are so adorable when they kiss you, or how they're so funny and smart and cute...all you're really doing is idealizing them. That's not real; those qualities are attractive, yes, but they're not what really matter (unless you really are in junior high, and then they are the only things that matter).

Why do I like the person I like?

I like him because he is real, because he is raw. He doesn't hide his feelings or sugar coat his emotions. I like him because he has a way of being a hundred percent honest with me, without ever hurting me. And that's not an easy thing to do - tell someone the absolute truth, the good with the bad, without being hurtful. It's something I'm not very good at, so it's a quality I genuinely appreciate in someone else.

I like the way this guy makes me think; people don't spend enough time challenging the people around them, and I appreciate the way he challenges me to think outside the box, to look at the other sides of my own opinions. In that same regard, I love that he said his favorite thing about me is the way I think, that my thinking is sexy. That's probably one of the most genuine things anyone has ever said to me. How often are women complimented on their brains, thoughts, opinions? Far too rarely. Too often we are simply reduced to our physical appearance and complimented on our bodies or our faces. Hearing a guy compliment my mind was refreshing.

I admire that he does what he wants, when he wants, and doesn't have to justify it. He makes choices I don't agree with, and even some that I think are really stupid, but he makes them unapologetically - because he does what he thinks is best for himself. In trying to focus on doing what I want and being unapologetically myself, I am fascinated by this quality in him...even on the days it irritates me or makes me worry like a crotchety old lady.

I like him because he's supportive and encouraging, and because he's a really good friend. What makes him a good friend? He's invested. It's really that simple; my best friends are invested in me. They care about me and they show it, and they are there when I need them. When I do something crazy like start a random #faceyourfears challenge, they encourage it and support me. He does that. I appreciate that someone is as invested in me as I am in him. We could all use a little more of that.

More than anything, though, I like the guy I like, because we were brought together by this blog - one of my very first posts - about why I hate dogs and love cats. He wrote the condensed version of this post in a Facebook status last year, and my girlfriend shared my post with him. At that point, it was kind of a gotta-meet-this-guy type scenario, but we've not been without road blocks (also known as deep rooted emotional issues on both of our part) on the road to the friendship we have now.

But that's the thing about finding good people in the world - when your emotional arm comes out, when you try to shove them away, when your instinct tells you to run for solitude - the people who love you, don't leave you. They don't let you run away, they don't let you put up walls. And my appreciation for this guy, and those people, continues to grow.

And more than anything else, mutual affection for cats and disdain for dogs is clearly the root of all happiness.

Friday, August 15, 2014

#FacingMyFears, Week One and Done

I started this 21 day challenge of facing my fears for two reasons: I thought it sounded like a fun way to challenge myself and bring about some changes I've been putting off out of self doubt (and some laziness), and to really focus on two of my greatest fears - surrendering/losing control to someone else, and repeating a mistake that I've already made and "should have" learned from. It's been a whole week, and I haven't missed a day yet!

Day 1: Spend the day telling the people I love, that I love them. I am afraid of the greatness of the words I love you, and I need to do a better job at expressing that. I have always been able to tell people how much they matter, how important they are, how much I need them...but I struggle with the literal word, love. Spending the day saying it, made it less scary, and ended up being a day spent hearing I love you as well - and who doesn't feel better after that?

Day 2: Tell my family I'm moving (again). I am afraid of judgment and people being overly opinionated about my life choices. I made a decision to move into a 2 bedroom with a new roommate almost a month ago, and I was putting off talking to my family about it because I didn't want to have to defend my choices. But in telling them, everyone was supportive and encouraging of my choice, and I was reminded that they love me and always have my best intentions at heart. So I moved this week. I moved into a two bedroom, and my roommate is moving in tomorrow. Eeeeek!

Day 3: Snail mail something "gushy" to someone who makes my days brighter, in an effort to brighten his day back. I enjoy sending physical tokens of my appreciation for the important people in my life, but it makes me really nervous to reach out to someone with a gesture like that, because I am afraid of rejection. I mailed a book and a card to my friend Mike, because we had just had a conversation about the ways he related to this book - so I went out and bought it, took it to the post office, and sent it on it's way, with a note about how impressed I am by him. And I learned that I had nothing to fear, it made his day brighter, just as I'd intended. In fact, it made him gitty. And when I corrected him on the spelling of the word giddy, he explained that that's how long it had been, since the last time he felt giddy...that he couldn't even remember how to spell it. So, mission apparently accomplished.

Day 4: Apply for the writing program I've been looking into at WSU. I have tossed around the idea of going back to school for the last year or so, and I just have been too hesitant to move forward, and I wasn't sure that the money spent on a graduate degree was something I was all that ready to do. So instead of finding a grad program, I found a professional certificate I can get, with 15 credits of writing courses and an internship, and I applied! I was so nervous filling out the application and financial aid packet, but I was also instantly proud of myself for finding a program that would work for me, and I am excited to get started this fall (or winter, if my application is too late). 

Day 5: Step on the scale, take my measurements, and set my fitness goals. I have been putting this off for the same reasons everyone else does - I don't prioritize the gym as much as I need to. At the end of a shitty day at work, it's the last place I want to go. And I am not good at getting up at 5:00 to go before work. Also, working out in public gives me anxiety, and I hate it. But I know it is vitally important to my health, especially with my frightening family heart history, so I sat down with my measurements and my goals, and made a plan to succeed. 

Day 6: Schedule blood work & "lady biz" doctor's appointments. This is a simple, stupid fear of going to the doctor. I don't know where it comes from, but I hate going there. I need a full physical/lab work. I'm 31, and you're supposed to get those. I need to make sure my family's medical history of diabetes and cancer and heart disease and high cholesterol. I have been hesitant to schedule my appointment with the gynecologist for two reasons - because with the endometriosis diagnosis (say that 3x fast) I got, I know there is always a chance of that coming back (and that surgery was not fun), and also because there is a chance, based on the aforementioned surgery/diagnosis, that I am not able to have babies. And while I do not want to have babies, I feel like I should be the one pulling it off the table, not science. In any case, I scheduled my appointments for the 28th, and we'll just see how it all goes.

Day 7 (that's today!!): Make the same mistake twice. I had a conversation about this one earlier this week, trying to find a way to manifest it without just intentionally making a mistake I've already made, just to say I made the same mistake twice; that seemed stupid to me. And I was told in terms of the heart, you have to be courageously a way, you have to put yourself out there and risk the hurt again. Wise words spoken by my wise friends. And it's so true. I have held myself back from letting someone in, because in the past, it has been painful. But that's not fair to me, nor is it fair to someone who I should be fully letting in and haven't been. The only thing I can do now, is embrace how I feel, be honest about it, and see what happens. It's easy to fall into the mindset of, I've been hurt before, if I do this again, I'll get hurt again.

That's where I find myself, fairly often. I think back on conversations I have with this guy I'm into, or I think about times that we've hung out, and I compare them to conversations or time spent with other guys who have eventually hurt me, and I find myself second guessing everything said, every move made. And that's ridiculous; it's such a waste of my time and my energy, and it's not fair to have these meaningful conversations and then go back and second guess their validity later on. I am making an effort today to strike up a conversation, about how I feel and the way I think, and then to just let that conversation go - to not worry about it or dwell on it, to not focus on the words spoken or the actions that may or may not follow. I don't need to second guess this person; he's not someone who has broken my heart in the past. In fact, quite the opposite, he has been one to be very cautious with it. I need to focus on the fact that other people are not responsible for my baggage, and that sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself, is let someone new in. And if that's the best I can do, I need to do it. And I am making a true effort to do just that - let him in, and not question his intentions unfairly.

So, I made it through week one in one piece. I do have to say, it has been a challenge! It's been a means to stay very focused on myself, my actions, my thoughts - and that's not something I'm used to doing. But I shared with my counselor that I'd started it (my appointment was on day two) and she thought it was a great idea. It's certainly been a good way to stay present in the moments throughout my day, and has been a motivating week.

On to week two!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

And Then The Dream Comes True

"You're a published writer V, very sexy!" Best compliment I have ever received, probably in my whole life.

A few months ago, I entered a writing contest on Craigslist. They were asking for stories about rescue cats, and it was the perfect story for me to write. I wrote this story about the day I got Juno, and submitted it. The ad on Craigslist had said that they would be looking for the best 16 stories submitted. Part of me thought this could potentially be a scam, but they weren't asking for any personal information, so I went for it. I submitted my story that evening, and then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then I got an email that said I had been selected! They asked me for a photo of Juno to use in their e-book, and I had to sign a legal release for publication...because I wasn't going to make any money from this story in their book, and they had to have legal allowance to use one of my photos. I sent them a picture of Juno in her signature pose - laying on her back like a baby otter - and signed the release. I asked how long it might take to be available on Amazon, and was told 7-8 weeks.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Then on Friday, I received an email that the book was complete and available for free download on Amazon! I jumped out of bed and onto my laptop, downloaded my copy, and opened it in the Kindle reader app on my computer...and there it was! 16 stories of rescued cats, with MINE right in the middle of it! I was so excited I couldn't think to do anything else but post on Facebook, email my mom, and message a couple of my best friends.

Everyone I talked to all day told me how proud they were of me, how happy they were for me, and were really encouraging and supportive, and I spent the entire day just beaming. Because here's the thing - despite the fact that I won't make any money from this book, and that it is not in print, just online - I am published. In a real book. And that is honestly, my life dream. Has been for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I wrote stories and told my parents I was going to write books. In high school, I submitted writing samples to contests all over the place. In college, I chose writing as a major, knowing it would never get me anywhere financially but that it would get me to my dream: publication. This is what I have always been reaching for, and it has really felt like an unrealistic goal at times; the impossibility of being published has been unmotivating and frustrating.

But with this win, I feel like I can do it. I feel like I will sit down and write that children's book I've always dreamed of writing, that I will have it published, and that my cousins will be able to purchase it at a bookstore (or maybe I'll give them all an autographed copy). In any case, I feel like I did it. I accomplished my dream, and it's pushed me to keep shooting for the next one.

Thank you for all of the support and encouraging words, for reading my blog, for following it and commenting on it, for laughing with me when I write something funny, and for understanding when I write something sad. I am seriously just still, a week later, on cloud nine over this.

Go. Download. Read. And write a review!
Hi Veronica,

RESCUED KITTIES is now available in the Amazon Kindle store!  It looks great, and I know you’re going to be so proud to be part of it.  You can download your personal copy now.  You may also want to encourage your friends & family to take advantage of it being free for the next 5 days.  We’re hoping that the “free promotion” will generate interest and a lot of great reviews.  J  If you don’t have a Kindle, you can simply download a free Kindle Reader app onto your computer. (

Your story about Juno really blessed us, Veronica, and we know the readers are going to love it too.  Congratulations again on being one of the 15 chosen authors!
Best wishes!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Today's Writing Prompt: Your last kiss.

The last kiss I shared was with an awesome, handsome, hilarious guy. A guy who loves me to the moon. A guy who holds my hand when we walk in the park, who snuggles me whenever I ask him to, and who runs towards me whenever he sees me, with a huge grin on his adorable face and his arms outstretched. This is a guy who lays in bed and scratches my back while we watch movies, who shares his popcorn, and who paints for me. He reads with me, dances with me, and never lets me be sad. He celebrated his birthday last week, and after I gave him a present and his belated spankings last night, he let me hold him like a baby and rock him back and forth making crying baby noises and telling him how much I loved to rock him when he was tiny.

My last kiss was a wet, sloppy, slightly-boogery face plant from my favorite three-year-old. And as always, after we smooched, we both wiped our mouths with the back of hands and a BLECH!!!

Little does he know, I glue those kisses on.

In agreeing to write this blog, I got to thinking about relationships and what makes them successful. I thought back to a conversation I had with a girlfriend, which resulted in her blog about not talking about her relationship on Facebook, and I decided the same was true for this topic. Don't kiss and tell.

Writing a blog about my last (real) kiss, would be just that: telling.

There are things you share with your girlfriends about the boys you're kissing - the things like, the first time he kisses you or the first time you have sex (and in all honesty, some of the amazing things he does that you didn't know existed before you met him). Sometimes you tell your girlfriends about the way someone kissed you, or how he kissed you, or the way you felt when he kissed you. And that's okay; sometimes you have to share your excitement with your friends. When something is new and exciting with someone, we tend to share more of these moments with our friends - because in trying to play it cool with said new guy, we have to get our excitement out somehow...

And that is how we end up at Buffalo Wild Wings, drinking beer, talking about the way a new guy touched us the night before.

But then there are the things you keep to yourself, the things that stay between you and the boy, the things that make you grin ear to ear in a room all by yourself, days later. That's what keeps them special, the fact that it's a secret that you only share with one boy, and that the only two people in the world who know what happened when that last kiss happened, are you and him. Knowing that when you close your eyes and think about that last kiss, there is no one else in the world who knows you're still smiling about it, can be equally exciting.

The longer you spend kissing a boy, the fewer details you tend to share, and the more things you tend to keep to yourself. And that's when things are the best, the healthiest, the happiest - when you tell your friends how happy he makes you or the ways he makes you smile, instead of the way he made you cum twice in one night or the way you let him skip the condom. When you stop telling your girlfriends about how he did things to you, and start telling them about the way he makes you feel, that's when you know things are good.

There are kisses you talk about, and there are kisses you keep to yourself. My last (adult) kiss was definitely the latter. It was one of those kisses better kept to myself, to close my eyes and think about later.

It was sexy though, I'll at least give you that.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Don't Sit Still for too Long

Despite the number of times I have moved in the past three years - and it's been a lot of times - I have lived alone, supporting just myself & Miss Juno, since November, 2011. It's been me and her, with no one else to worry about, take care of, or rely on.

Don't get me wrong, I have had a ton of support. I have had to go back to my mom & dad's, I've rented from family, I've stayed at someone's house as a long-term house sitter, and I've lived on site at my properties at a discounted rate. I've needed help, and I've received it, for which I am truly grateful. I wouldn't be where I am today - standing on my own two feet, a nice place to call home, bills paid, money in the bank - had I not had all of those people to take care of me, without hesitation, three years ago.

When a woman finally leaves a man who has been abusing her for a long time, it usually happens fast, and the same was true for me. One day, I owned a house (I call it a house because it was certainly not a home), where I lived with my boyfriend, his daughter, his teenage brother, and our new cat. I was miserable, sad, and bitter. I had no money of my own, despite having a full time job. I rarely had enough gas in my car to go much further than my office. I rubbed pennies together to buy wedding gifts and worked overtime to pay for bridesmaid dresses. The money I did have, went to food for the cat or school clothes for the kiddo; it certainly wasn't going to dinners or drinks with friends. I had no means to take care of myself whatsoever, because when you're being abused, that's part of the game: don't give her the opportunity to get away. So that was one day. The next day, I was packing frantically, throwing things in boxes, tearing shelves from walls, shoving things into my car wherever they would fit. My dad was speeding to Vancouver with a trailer to pick up what wouldn't fit in my car. I was squeezing my cat into her crate and buckling her into the front seat. And before an 8 hour work day had passed for him, I was driving away, heart racing, head rushing, not looking back. And from my childhood bedroom at my parents' house, for the next six months, I continued to look forward, save money, and heal. 

And since then, I have lived by myself, just me and Juno, happy as can be. In control of my own space. Comfortable. In my apartment, no matter how many times I've moved, I've been the one hanging pictures where I want them, putting things away the way I want, moving furniture to the way I prefer. No one else's opinions mattered, no one else was telling me what to do, what to buy, how to decorate. Just me. My stuff. My money. My responsibility. My finances. My bills. 

I am afraid of losing control of my own life; this is a topic discussed frequently in therapy - the ways I can let people in and let people take care of me, without letting them take over my life. I don't need to lose all sense of myself in order to let someone in. I don't need to push with all my might to keep people an arm's length away. And I don't need to be alone to be in control.

Day two of facing my fears: I'm moving in with someone. A roommate, not a boyfriend, but still, with someone who I will need to share living space with. I am not moving off my property, I will still be living on site at the building I work at, because I like it here and it's home. But next week I am moving from my one bedroom into a two bedroom - ironically into the exact same two bedroom my best friend lived in just a couple months ago, where I stayed for a couple weeks last summer - where I will rent the second bedroom and bathroom (as well as half of our shared space) to a college girl I met through one of my residents. She's young, quiet, super responsible, and a total "good girl." We're not friends, we've only met a few times actually, and I think it'll be ideal that way - I didn't want to live with someone I'm super close with, with whom I'd be content to sit home on the couch with night after night. I didn't decide to get a roommate so I'd have someone to live with; I decided to get a roommate so I would have a ton of extra money.

I'm excited. But I was also scared. Scared of telling my family I was moving again. Scared of judgment. Scared of sharing bills. Scared of sharing space. Scared of someone else living in my place, someone who doesn't love Juno as much as I do, someone who doesn't watch the same shit television or drink the same smoothies I do. Just scared of relinquishing any level of control. I vented this fear to a friend, who reminded me that I'm not the same person I was three years ago, and that in no way does making a smart financial decision to save $750 every month mean I was losing any level of control. In fact, if anything, saving that much money on a monthly basis is going to give me more control - it will definitely give me more opportunity, more of a safety net, more chances to do what I want and try new things, more means to find things that make me happy. 

You should never let fear keep you from making decisions to do things different. Change is good. Change is healthy. Surrendering control is healthy, and it's what will make you happiest in the end. I'm not thrilled about living with a roommate, but while my friends are all teasing me about moving yet again, I'll be the girl with an extra $750 in my pocket every month, for the small price to pay of renting a room to a college student. Laughing my way to the bank. Because I decided not to be too scared to change my obsessive need for control of the 1,000 square feet I live in. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Love You, G'Night

What does it take for you to tell someone you love them? What are the qualifications to love, for you?

Do you reserve the L word for your romantic relationships, or do you extend it into your friendships as well? What about friends of the opposite sex? Do you tell your family that you love them? Immediate family, or extended family also? How often do people in your life tell you that they love you? How many romantic partners have told you they love you? Have you always said it back, or have you ever had one of those moments where someone said it and you couldn't say it back? What's your emotional (and physical) response when you hear those "three little words" for the first time? Which people, in what scenarios, with how many stars in alignment, warrant an I Love You in your life?

And on the flip side, how often do you express your feelings of disdain for someone? How many times a day do the words, I Hate You/That/Him/Her, come out of your mouth or run through your mind? How often, while talking shit with your friends, do you say you hate someone or something? Like me, do you feel hate towards anyone in your family? Do you have failed romantic relationships laced with hatred that you have no trouble expressing? Have you ever looked a friend in the face and said you hated them? Why? What's your emotional (and physical) response when someone says they hate you? Which people, in which scenarios, warrant an I Hate You in your life?

I ask because, at least in my experience, expressing hateful emotion toward people - being mean to someone or telling them I hate them - can sometimes come a lot easier than expressing loving ones.

And no, that's not because I'm a bitch.

I'm not a mean person by any means, and there is not a lengthy list of people out there who I hate or wish bad things on. But, I do often struggle with the ability to tell someone how much I love them (romantically or otherwise). And it's because telling someone I love them makes me vulnerable, and I don't always like to be vulnerable. Telling someone how much I dislike them, however, puts me in a position of power and control, with which I am much more at ease. There is some strange satisfaction is telling someone that you don't like, the reasons that you don't like them.

You can take many members of my dad's family for example on that; I get a real (sick) thrill knowing that they read this blog, and from knowing that they have seen in black and white the reasons why I will never forgive them for their awful behavior towards me and my mom (and towards my aunt and cousins, by the way). I'm not apologetic for saying the things I've said to them, because I know I am not vulnerable to them and that I have control. And I like that. Because that's comfortable for me, being in control.

On the other hand, I can struggle with telling my friends how much I care about them in significant ways. Specifically with that big L word; I don't often say I love you. I don't toss it around with my friends. I don't say it much to my family, other than my mom (and all the babies, but they'e easy). I never say it to friends who are boys, because I always feel like that's such a mixed signal. I've said it to exactly three boys, romantically, and I have never said it first - even when I knew I was ready to say it. Specifically, my most recent ex-boyfriend (who will likely read this and then make fun of me) comes to mind. I knew I was in love with him before he ever told me he loved me. But I certainly was far too scared of my own feelings and my own vulnerability to say it. So this one night, when he was out of town for work and we'd been on the phone for an ungodly number of hours, in the midst of telling me a list of qualities he liked about me, he told me he loved me. And even after he said it, and even though I knew I felt the same way, it was a struggle for me to choke out, I love you too. Enough of a struggle that he responded with, you don't have to say it back if you don't feel it. And I remember being so caught off guard by that, because I knew that my feelings were real - but I was so bad at being vulnerable that it didn't feel real to him when I said it. **lessons learned in therapy that could have been helpful so much sooner in my life.**

Someone asked me today why I thought it was so much easier to tell everyone who/what/where they hate, but then once you say the word love, people get all twisted over it. "Like the qualifications to love are always scrutinized." This came up because while we were chatting last night, this someone said I love you, V, g'night. And instead of smiling and thinking it was great that one of my good friends was expressing a positive emotion towards me, I got super uncomfortable and a little anxious - enough so that he could read it through a Facebook chat window and fully called me out on it. And the thing is, he was right. It's easier to be mean, it's easier to say hate, it's easier to keep control and to extend your emotional arm out to where no one can get close enough to warrant an I Love You. But is it better to have something simple, or is it better to have something real?

I'm afraid of saying I Love You. Especially first. So for my first day of my challenge, to face something I'm afraid of today, I'm going to tell a few of the people I love, that I love them. Because I do. I am actually a big heaping scoop of sappy, gushy love...I just tend to be scared to say it out loud.

But today, I'm challenging that. Because nothing good ever comes from burying your feelings.

You don't have to be in a 21 day fear challenge to make a change, either. If you love someone, go tell them. They deserve to hear it, and you deserve to express it. Never be afraid of your own feelings; they're part of those imperfect flaws that make you who you are.

And people love you for it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

21 Days to a More Fearless Self

If we never did anything that scared us, how boring would life be? If we always played it safe, never took a risk or a leap, never just jumped into something that scared the hell out of us, would we ever wind up with anything truly worthwhile?

Did you ever get a job you wanted by playing it safe, by blending in? Did you ever get someone's number or start a new romantic relationship without some blind faith? We don't find ourselves in a new home, a new place, a new career, a new relationship, without a little bit of jumping head first into something unknown.

Part of what makes life - and the things in it - exciting, is the fear we have to experience to get where we're at. We don't get ahead, we don't fall in love, and we don't move forward, without facing our fears head on. Change is both exciting and frightening; making waves isn't easy. But it's a necessary part of life. And if we embrace our fears, it is also exhilarating.

Fear, much like imperfection, is often misconstrued with a negative connotation. We think being scared is bad. We think it's weak or that it makes us less than what we should be. If a guy is scared, he's a bitch. If a girl is scared, she's "that" girl. When we find ourselves feeling fearful of something, we tend to want to run or back down, or we try to dodge a conversation or run away from our own emotions. I see examples of this in my life almost daily. How often do we stay in a job we don't love out of fear of doing something else? How often do we stay living in our current city just because we know it to be home? I know that I am where I am, partially because of fear of what else is out there not coming as smoothly as what I have now. It's how I operate, and it's how a lot of people operate: if it's too scary, I'll just avoid it.

The thing about fear, though, is that it can be thrilling, exciting, and the best means to something new or something better. Nothing worth having comes easily, and sometimes you have to take a little risk. You have to take a step forward, or sometimes a giant leap, to get what you want out of life. What are you waiting for? 

I am stepping up to this 21 day challenge, as a means to face some of my fears in a more positive way, as well as to make some positive change in my life: . But, I am going to start in reverse, with #8 on the list - do one thing every day (for 21 days) that scares me. I think the timing of this is excellent. I just had a birthday, I'm feeling adventurous, and the weather is still summer-y, which tends to keep me more motivated that the winter cold. 

So, bring it on,  fear, I'm ready.