“Inside is not a heart, but a kaleidoscope”

Well, folks, that time of year is here. Time to reflect on the good in our lives and what we are thankful for. Ironically, this time of year comes directly before we start looking for everything we want that we don’t have, but whatever. I feel like the list of things I am thankful for could never possibly be comprehensive enough to describe how full and rich my life is; however, I am going to list only a few of the hundreds of thousands of things I am so grateful for in my everyday life.

  • Colorado. Without Colorado, I would have never learned how to love my independence and my ability to create a life separate from the one in which I grew up. Not to mention that the mountains rock and it’s the coolest place in the world.
  • My sisters, Kourtney and Katie. I am lucky to know that, now that I live apart from them, we are able to have a friendship out of choice rather than just because we are related. They are the most amazing people, and I’m lucky that they are my friends as well as my sisters.
  • The Green Bay Packers. Duh.
  • My health. Some of you may know that I had a bit of a health scare a couple months ago, and luckily, I am fine. My health allows me not only to continue living this awesome life of mine, but to be able to run, play, laugh, breathe, and move forward while being acutely aware that it may not always be that way.
  • My education and, subsequently, my job. I have been extremely privileged in that I have gone to some amazing schools and been able to pursue higher education at my will. Therefore, I have been able to have a job that encourages me to learn and grow everyday!
  • My parents. Somehow, I was lucky enough to score two of the most understanding, hilarious, passionate, and well-rounded parents on the planet. I will never be able to adequately express how fortunate I am for having them.
  • Reminders of my losses. Though loss is one of the worst parts of life, each loss serves as an experience from which I can grow; furthermore, each loss makes me more grateful for what I have here, and reminds me to hold everything I do have near and dear.
  • My extended family. Supportive doesn’t even begin to describe them, and I am lucky that I am able to maintain relationships with them over phone, text, email, Facebook, etc.
  • Lastly, my ridiculous group of friends. Whether they be coworkers, part of a sports team, people to go out and drink with, school friends, someone to have deep talks with, bitch about life over ice cream, or whatever, I have the most incredible group of friends on the planet. There has never been a shortage of laughter in my life, and in no small part is that due to my friends.

 

Again, this list doesn’t even begin to cover all the things I am grateful for in my life. Just knowing that I have an endless lists of thanks in my head is good enough for me.

I hope everyone reading this has a great holiday, safe travels, lots of food, lots of wine, and most importantly, plenty of things to be thankful for this year 🙂

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“He had a steady hand and I got used to it.”

Most things change over the course of 10 years. Politics, technology, social issues, hairstyles, popular music…it has all changed drastically in the last 10 years.

10 years ago today, my life was great. I was sitting in my catechism class, looking at the storm outside, and daydreaming. I was 16, infallible and full of ideas about what life entailed.

10 years ago tomorrow my life changed forever. It may have been a decade ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I found out he was missing as I sat in my chemistry class. After class, I went down to the hallway by the gym and called my mom. I went to the office, stated I had a migraine, and went home. Tears flowed freely, whether I wanted them or not. I sat by the lake for a bit that night, feeling hopeful that he was merely stranded somewhere on Lake Winnebago. I wasn’t alone; there is rarely solitude in tragedy.

It didn’t take 10 years for my life to change. It took a single moment and my life changed forever. In looking back on the last 10 years of my life, I am shocked by how many things have changed because of Adam.

Since November 12, 2003 I have become a better person. I have realized that nothing is forever and that I need to appreciate what I have when I have it. I have had moments of struggle, pain, sadness, heartache, and doubt; then I remember that nothing lasts forever. If I can survive the loss of a friend, the shattering of ideas of infallibility, heartache I have never known since, I can survive anything else that comes my way.

Adam was one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He was funny, kind, sweet, and he cared about people in his life so deeply it scares me still to this day. Above all else, he was true to himself. I can honestly say that was what I admired most about him.

10 years. It’s a long time, and a lot has changed. One thing has remained the same since that terrible, terrible day. This world lost an amazing, caring, and charismatic guy. And those of us who knew him will never forget.

“Only miss the light when it’s burning low.”

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I got this notification from my CNN app today. If I were a cartoon, smoke would have come out of my ears (by the way, how awesome would that be?!).

Mainstream media has this horrible habit of blaming extremely violent crimes on mental illness. Scratch that- any time there is a crime reported by media outlets, mental illness is always a part of the discussion.

There is a myth that has been perpetuated for decades that mental illness = violence. One of the first things I was asked by friends and family members when I started at MHCD was “Aren’t you scared you will be attacked?”

Answer: no, I am not.

People who are mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of a crime than perpetrators. When a violent crime happens and is widely reported, the thought is “Well, they must have had schizophrenia/bipolar/antisocial personality disorder.” The thought is that if someone does something violent, they must have a diagnosable mental illness.

That could NOT be further from the truth. People who commit violent crimes (e.g. James Holmes) obviously have abnormal thought patterns. However, there is a distinct difference between “evil” and “mentally ill.” There are evil people in the world who are not mentally ill; rather, they wish to cause harm to others in very specific ways.

My clients have been victimized countless times: victims of theft, rape, exploitation. The times they have committed crimes? Usually to get food or money. Rarely to harm another person.

How can we get past the myth of “mental illness = violence”? Education. Working with persons with mental illness. Finding out that mental illness doesn’t make people unpredictable; people make people unpredictable. Just because an awful thing happens at the hands of a disturbed person does not mean it has happened as a result of mental illness.

“Maybe you bet on me while we were still young enough to know what to believe”

Losing sight of what is important is far too easy. Then, in one sudden flash, you get news: a death, cancer, devastation in a far off corner of the world. Suddenly, your own trivial issues don’t matter. They just do not matter. 

In the last few years, I have had several moments of realization that humble me. Luckily, hardly any of them have been about the people closest to me, or myself. 

This week, I received news that a family friend of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sandy is one of my favorite people; she is sweet, energetic, and caring about everyone she encounters. Every time I see her, she gives me a hug and genuinely wants to hear how I am doing. It’s heartbreaking, how someone so great can have something so awful happen, but I am confident that with help, support, and encouragement she will have no problem kicking cancer’s ass. 

My moment of realization helped me to realize (once again) that my frustrations lately are just that: the latest frustrations that will most definitely have an end to them. I’ve been pretty negative lately (sorry to everyone who has had to put up with me lately), so I want to take this opportunity to name 20 things I’m grateful for.

1) Having a steady job.
2) Pictures of people pretending their significant other “caught” them sleeping.
3) Buzzfeed.
4) Living in Wash Park.
5) Good health…scratch that. Great health. 
6) Clean clothes.
7) Going back to Wisconsin next week.
8) Being young enough to make stupid decisions without any serious consequences.
9) GiGi (aka my car, who has not yet failed me).
10) My parents. In the past week, I have called both of them to bitch about my frustrations at work, and not once did they get annoyed…or rather, they didn’t let me know they were annoyed.
11) My sisters. Two gals who are so beautiful, funny, and bright and whom I don’t get to see enough.
12) My hilarious friends. All of them.
13) Football season being like, right around the corner.
14) My bed. That shit is comfortable.
15) Being able to go running at the park whenever I feel like it.
16) Avocados. 
17) Jokes about how small T-Rex’s arms are.
18) Music.
19) Friday nights consisting of watching movies and doing laundry.
20) Colorado. 

 

“There are things, be as they will, and let my heart beat itself still”

When I started this blog in December, I had every intention of making it a blog about dating. I realized today that I haven’t done that in a while.

Now, before you get too excited (because I know you are), I would like to say that my dating life has been extremely boring as of late. However, I would like to update you all on the ridiculousness of the dates I’ve been on in the past few months.

Some of you may remember my first post about dating. For those that don’t, here’s the summary: Homeboy was drunk when I showed up, got high minutes after I arrived, and asked me to marry him. Not the best. I thought it was funny, because I was like “Who the hell gets high during a first date?!” Low and behold, it happened to me AGAIN. I am not kidding.

A totally separate person also thought that getting high in the  middle of a first date was acceptable. How this is possible, I’m not sure. This guy was not drunk when I showed up, and we had a great time the first 45 minutes or so. Good conversation, and I actually felt some butterflies in my stomach. Things turned quickly; he said “Hey, I’m gonna go smoke, wanna come with?” I politely replied that I don’t smoke and that I would wait inside. Smiling somewhat smugly, he replied “No, not cigarettes, it’s a joint. Wanna come?” Disbelief sunk in and I realized it was happening again. It only got worse from there; in the time it took me to finish my last drink, he invited his friend to join us and made me pay for my own drinks. Apparently, I was not worth the $10 to him. I left to meet up with some of my girlfriends, and he texted me “I had an amazing time with you tonight. Grab dinner this weekend?” My reply was short and sweet, just stating that though I think he is great, there were some things that didn’t quite click. This was the middle of March, and I haven’t talked to him since.

The rest of the dates I’ve been on since March haven’t been quite as terrible; there was the guy who was sweet and awesome, but didn’t fit with me on some pretty important levels (e.g. he was really religious while I am not). There was the guy who texted me on and off, and didn’t actually ask me out for about 4 months. There was the guy who was shy, funny, and athletic, but who didn’t disclose that he had a kid. The list goes on and on.

The point of this? The dating world is not an easy one to participate in. Dating burnout is common, and I’m experiencing it right now. My friend Ashlie asked me last night would I be ready, if I met someone who was healthy, funny, nice, and doesn’t get high in the middle of a first date, to date someone? My answer was yes.

Followed quickly by “Wait, do you know any guys like that?”

“Get back on track, pick me up some bottles of booze.”

Recently, I have come to find that most actions, words, events are a result of one thing: wanting. Longing. Reaching for something more. I was lead to this realization by a quote I came across in the depths of the internet:

“I am going to tell you a secret. Everything is about wanting. Everything. Things happen because of people wanting.”

In examining my own behavior, that is exactly what I do. Often times, this “wanting” leads me astray from the things that I actually want. That didn’t make sense. Let me explain.

A big part of this last year of my life, I have tried to set some longer-term goals for myself in the hopes of becoming the person I want to be as opposed to the person I have always been. Running a half marathon, working out more often, finding hobbies that I truly enjoy, cutting poisonous people out of my life, not dating just for the sake of dating….these are all things I have tried to do in the last six months or so. In that respect, these things are what I actually want.

Aaaand then, there is the immediate “want.” Sometimes, I would rather act on my immediate desires as opposed to working toward the things I actually want for my life. When I have one drink too many on a Saturday night, when I eat a hamburger instead of a salad, when I kiss someone just for the sake of kissing someone, when I gossip about someone who is, in reality, not a bad person…these are all things I want in the moment, but not in the long term. 

Observing this behavior in myself isn’t new, but the conflict I feel about it? That is definitely new. What kind of person am I portraying? Is it someone that others can respect, or is it someone that others look down upon? Most troubling is this question:

Am I too impulsive to change the way I act in the moment to align with my long-term goals?

Ultimately, the only person that can answer that is me. Frequently, I’m the one making fun of my stupid, impulsive decisions, usually saying something along the lines of “I’m just a fucking mess,” or “How am I qualified to give clients advice about their lives when my life is in shambles?” Obviously, these statements are hyperboles, but they come from a very real place.

Am I someone who can meet long term goals for myself and make myself a better person, or am I always going to be the person who makes decisions on the fly and deals with the consequences later?

I don’t really know how to end this post. Typically, I find the resolution I desire through writing, which is where all of this came from this evening. However, today, I still feel confused. The blame falls on the allergy meds I’ve taken today. Yeah, that’s it.

I’m a new day rising.

I’m a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight

I’m a little divided

Do I stay or run away, leave it all behind?

“All the lights on and you are alive, but you can’t point the way to your heart”

Today, I received some very exciting news. Like, very exciting.

For those of you who don’t already know, I have been involved in the game of egg donation since last August. Brief explanation for those of you who don’t understand: I am young and fertile, so I donate my eggs to couples who can’t conceive naturally. Simple enough. It was a decision I made in my last year of grad school, and was finally chosen by a couple in August of last year.

My first donation was confusing and overwhelming. I had to go through genetic testing and a psychiatric evaluation (weirdly enough, I came out sane….it was likely flawed). Injection training was the point at which I really freaked- I HAVE TO STICK MYSELF WITH A NEEDLE EVERY DAY?! Turns out, it wasn’t scary at all. My donation went smoothly, and I found out 4 weeks after my donation that the intended parents were pregnant. Few things in my life had ever compared to the moment that I found out I had helped a couple start their familiy. As I told my mom, I had never felt more powerful, feminine, or in awe in my entire life. It was amazing.

In February, I was asked to donate again to a different couple. The story this couple had touched my heart. They had attempted egg donation with 3 people prior to me; for one reason or another, the previous 3 donors were unable to complete the cycle. The couple, obviously, was very weary of the whole situation and, from what I could gather, was feeling pretty hopeless about the whole thing. Enter me and my apparently super-fertile eggs. Since I had donated before, I knew what to expect and wasn’t scared. Rather, I was very excited to have the chance to give another couple the family they desired. I donated in the beginning of May.

Today, I received the news that they are now pregnant with twins.

Once again, I am awestruck. Modern medicine is incredible. The human body is incredible. My whole life has changed due to this egg donation process. I am fully aware of what amazing things my body can do, and though I am not looking to start a family right now, I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to help another family.

I know that a lot of people feel strongly about egg donation and IVF, whether it is negative or positive. All I can say is that, without any doubt in my mind, I am very much in support of IVF. Not only have I received a great deal of joy from being able to participate in the process, but two separate couples have gotten to begin the life they wanted for themselves and have a family.

This may not be a journey others understand or wish to be a part of, but it is now part of who I am, and I couldn’t be happier.

“Wish I were with you, I couldn’t stay, every direction leads me away”

After almost 3 years of living here, I finally felt it: Denver is my home.

I am lucky enough to have an abundance of great friends in Denver; honestly, it feels like every few months or so my group of friends expands. However, I usually keep my groups of friends pretty separate. No rhyme or reason to why that is; it’s just something I’ve done since moving here. 

Friday night, however, I realized that the days of doing that may be numbered. I was at a bar with some of the kickball team that I play with on Friday nights, and went to the bathroom. Upon arriving back at the table, someone had joined the table who wasn’t there before. I sat down in a seat, and he said “Hey, I know you!” Turns out, it was the friend of a guy I had gone out with a couple times. He was friends with the brother of someone that was on the kickball team.  Now, this may not seem unusual; this used to happen quite a bit when I lived in Wisconsin. However, as it was the first time it had happened to me in Denver, I was really taken aback.  That was the moment I realized it; I have lived here long enough that I’m going to start finding weird connections between people that I know.

This realization made me feel two different things: uneasy and comforted. Obviously, two very conflicting emotions.

I felt uneasy because I realized that I no longer have anonymity here. For the past 3 years, I have felt relatively anonymous here, and have felt that no matter what, I would remain that way. It was really weird for me to realize that I know enough people here that I am no longer just a visitor in this city, but rather a resident and an active part of the social scene for people in their 20s and 30s.

I felt comforted because I felt home. Finally! I have felt pretty homeless for the last 3 years. I’m from Wisconsin, went to grad school in Denver, lived in Tajikistan for a few months, and then decided to work here without ever making the conscious decision to make it my home. However, when I decided to work here and build a life for myself as an adult and as a contributing member of society, I never thought that this would be home for me. 

Days like today (Mother’s Day) usually make me really sad. My desire to be “home”, with my family and friends, becomes overwhelming and I tend to get very sad. Today is different. Though I obviously miss my mom (and the rest of my family), I have not felt that I am not at home. Rather, I feel like I am home, and just separated from a place I used to know. And that? Well, it’s pretty damn great.

“First time we met, your face became etched in my mind.”

What happened yesterday in Boston…well, there are no words. As I said to several of my coworkers yesterday, my whole goal in life has always been to understand people. The more tragedies that occur, both domestically and overseas, the more I realize that my goal is far too lofty.

In light of what happened, however, I am disturbed by how vicariously traumatized many of us have become by watching videos, looking at pictures, and reading first hand accounts of this incredibly awful event. Our media does little to prevent traumatizing those of us who, luckily, were not in Boston, not running the marathon, not cheering on loved ones.

The problem lies there. Our media is one that, in some sick way, tends to glorify tragedies and at the same time, undermines resilience and goodness. Have you seen the front page of the Boston Globe this morning? It is a picture of an injured person, bloodied and in pain. Underneath, in small writing, it says “Amid the shock, a selfless rush to help others.” 

Focusing on the hurt, the pain, the needless injuries and death first, and rarely bringing up the resilience and support of others in the aftermath is a surefire way to traumatize readers. I felt sick to my stomach upon seeing the picture on the front page of the Globe. Honestly, I didn’t choose to see it; it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. I didn’t have a choice. Instead, I was scrolling through Facebook, trying to sort through my own thoughts and confusion about yet another tragedy, and was subjected to blood and gore that should never be a part of mainstream media.

I’ve gotten off on a tangent. My point is that when media sources feature blood, gore, and trauma, it serves as a way to glorify those that committed such an act. Why is it that most Americans know Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Adam Lanza by name, but would be hard pressed to come up with a name of someone who helped in such a situation? I know that I can not name a single person who assisted, gave all they could, perservered; rather, I know the names of the unfortunate souls who committed acts against other human beings.

It is my hope that we can use the stories of resilience, assistance, genuine goodness of people in Boston as an opportunity to remind ourselves that people, generally speaking, are good in nature, and that traumatizing ourselves and others serves no purpose other than instilling fear and distrust.

Fever in the morning, fever all through the night.

Thoughts During My Fever Delirium

1) I can’t wait to watch Jurassic Park 2.
2) Sleep is good.
3) It’s warm in here.
4) I should write a blog post.
5) It’s cold in here.
6) My lips are chapped.
7) It’s warm in here.
8) I smell.
9) I can shower in the morning.
10) It’s cold in here.
11) I wonder if I can die from this.
12) What if someone came and offered me $10 million to lay in bed today?
13) Why would anyone do that?
14) It’s warm in here.
15) I need a butler.
16) Can I get bed sores if I lay in bed for 20 hours today?
17) It’s cold in here.
18) I should make everything in my apartment compatible with 3D glasses.
19) I wish my mom were here.
20) It’s warm in here. Zzzzz.