Tuesday, May 14, 2019

30.

I turn 30 this week. I don’t even know how to register that sentence...age now takes a different form in my mind. Instead of future years being compartments with defined contents, endings and beginnings, they are now fluid. You can do things at 25 that you “should’ve” done at 21. You can be 29 and feel like you’re 18...and simultaneously 40. There’s no limit to the things you can and can’t do at most any age (law permitting, of course).

Last year I was at a formal manager meeting for work where we did an icebreaker, and had to say one important thing we’ve learned up until this point in life. I was the youngest in the room by at least 5 years and was wondering what my contribution would be. I get anxiety having to speak off-the-cuff in groups and while they were moving down the line there were varied answers of “don’t be afraid”, “take chances” and “follow your dreams”; my mind was swimming with thoughts.

"What will they think?"
"Will this make sense?"
"Is this too deep for 9:30am on a Thursday?”

In the end, I overcame the internal struggle and answered, “one of the most important things I’ve learned is that the older I get, the less I know. Life has been a consistent unraveling of everything I ever thought I knew”.

Oof. Did I mention it was 9:30am on a Thursday?

Looking back, to soften the perceived grimness I probably could’ve tied it up with “...life has been a consistent unraveling of everything I ever thought I knew...and creates chances to weave my own patterns.” But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 right?

I got a few surprised looks and a few thoughtful “hmmms” and “ohhhs” and nods. A brief moment where the statement sunk in for reflection...and then they moved to the next person. There was no visible “a-ha!” moment for any of my colleagues, but I felt the satisfied feeling of going with my grain and saying what I needed to say. It was true; the script of life had been rewritten in my mind as I deconstructed certain pillars of success and life progress. Perhaps I'll write on these pillars soon. At my age I did feel like I knew less, but I felt wiser and more confident in what I did know, and more open to the unknown.

That trend of unraveling continues; this year it was my faith. I confronted what I grew up with and how disconnected I felt from it, and I began asking myself the questions that I had either never thought to ask or had been too afraid to answer for myself previously. I have no conclusions, but I have the start to something that feels more solid and “with my grain” than the starter set of my childhood. I anticipate that it will be an ongoing journey, and I am excited to make it my own.

This morning I was talking to the barista at the coffee shop down the street and he said "how does it feel to be turning thirty?", as if bracing himself for my outburst of tears or outrage or subtle desperation at another year gone by. I just replied "I don't know!"...and then, with a smile, "I like getting older". How am I supposed to feel? Would I want to wake up as my 13-yr-old self, a la Jennifer Garner? Probably not. Aside from the physical reminders of hard hangovers, back pain and creaky knees, I don’t know how else I’ll feel the delineation of 30. But one thing I do know is that I do like getting older, because each year I know myself better and become a better friend to myself. And I will always look forward to that.

Thanks for reading, friends :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuck in.


I love this quote. For me it so accurately describes those days (weeks, months, years?) where we don’t quite feel like ourselves. And we have to find the things that make our hearts happy (or did at one point, when we were more ourselves) and practice doing those things as a calling to the self inside, urging it to come back out. It's in there. After some time, perhaps those hands gingerly holding the guitar neck and strumming the strings won’t feel so foreign. Perhaps the urge to do that thing you used to always love doing will become natural again instead of gently forced. It will be like riding a bike...maybe you’ll do that again too.


I have become very familiar with this disjointed feeling, and am grateful that there are still certain scenarios and certain people that keep me connected and hopeful. I've been questioning my very foundation this past year and have felt the definition of burned out and uprooted. This past month since I've quit my job has felt something like blindly walking through fog while picking up the scattered pieces of myself; trying them like puzzle pieces to see what still fits. It also feels a bit like what I would picture amnesia feeling like, in the sense that I seem to forget that I worked in a good career and developed an awesome skillset that will assist me in the next step. Suddenly I've time-traveled to 2011 after graduation, when I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing and didn't have anywhere to start.

What did I quit for again?

Oh yeah, my well being! Although it hasn't been the magical experience that overworked employees daydream about at their desks, I am grateful for the time and space. I know that each puzzle piece I choose will be building a more authentic me, and that's what I will always continue to strive for.

I have a short list I found in my phone of what makes me happy that I wrote in 2016:

- Seeing dogs
- Singing
- Recognition (being recognized by others)
- Kisses
- Affection
- Commitment to plans
- Laughing
- Seattle

I am very grateful to say that all of those exist in my current life, with Seattle being an occasional trip. I must not have finished the list, because I could add so much more to that. Including but not limited to: being in the sunshine, coffee, bacon, love notes (and the one who writes them), hugs, mom and dad, hugs from mom and dad, live music, family hang outs, deep conversations at breweries, my family's tradition of waving goodbye, walks, hikes, kombucha dates, St. Patty's Day brunch, yoga, Himalayan salt lamps, reading good books, painting, sushi from my favorite spot, and more. I'm relying on the anchors both big and small in my life that instill hope, bring joy, and remind me of myself during this time of big change. Fight for joy, fight for light. Always. 

I hope you're well, friends.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Another day, another dollar.

3 years and 8 months ago, I wrote the following as a draft post and saved it in my long list of unpublished thoughts with the title "Another day, another dollar":

I've spoken about this before, but a couple of months ago I had an awakening. I took a look at my life working downtown and living nearby and thought this doesn't fit. It's beautiful and wonderful and I've been so extremely grateful for it, but something was urging me on. There was something more than this for me, there had to be. Not necessarily bigger or better in general, but something more me. It's almost an intuitive feeling.

This time has been life-giving, and I am happy to move to something else and make way for the next person to use these pieces as part of their journey. I don't feel that my journey ends here, even though it could. I could stay doing the same things and probably be comfortable, but there will always be that feeling of restlessness or anticipation.

And that was all that I had written. Thinking back, I didn't have the answer for next steps but I knew that I had to take them. Three weeks ago, I took the first step by putting in my notice at my job that has grown me for 5 years, and an industry that has grown me for 7. It was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make. And I made it largely without input of anyone else, at least not until I knew that I was going to do it for sure. After growing up following a path, I felt on my own with this one because it was so unlike what I have been taught and what I've grown up with. Leave a secure job for no job? Was I crazy?! Maybe a little. And it felt simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying.

As expected, my revelation of next steps to my family wasn't initially met with open arms; it was met with fear, hesitation, questioning, alarm, and ultimately, a big love woven throughout those emotions. In their minds, someone they loved and wanted to be safe and secure was saying they were jumping out of a plane without a parachute. This reaction is understandable and also why I didn't tell them sooner. But there were also wonderful moments where I told people and their first reactions were excitement and encouragement. I'll never forget when I told my good friend Katie and her first words were "that's exciting! When are we celebrating??" It woke me up to the actual excitement of making this decision that I had wanted to make for a long time.

So here I sit, on the first day of the next phase of my life. My last day was Friday and I woke up this morning with the feeling that I'm still on the weekend. I have some savings, some ideas, and a faith that I'll come back to myself and begin to move forward. The pathway is unclear but the direction feels like me, and I'm excited to see how this will unfold. I will make sure to keep you all posted! Thank you for reading, friends.





Sunday, February 3, 2019

Enjoy the view.

Hi, friends. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately (and recovering, from a bad cold). Even though it can knock you down hard, I always appreciate reminders to rest. I also appreciate the reminders I've gotten from a book I've been reading called Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

One of the exercises in the book involves writing out your workview and your lifeview, and then finding where the two intersect. Are they aligned? Are they different? Reflecting on these types of questions can help you to address any disconnect you may be feeling. I'm really enjoying the book so far and I wanted to include my answers below:

Workview:
Why work? Part of my answer is "because it's what you're supposed to do", but I've always loved work. Work has brought me tangible feelings of success and I thrive within structure and expectations. I think it's a great place to discover your talents, form relationships with others, support people and contribute to the processes of society. I love helping people love their work more and feel more confident in it.

Lifeview:
Life. Life has meaning to me. Love is real, it changes people. Kindness makes a person's day. We all have crap and we're all just trying to figure it out...and it's important to leave room for people to surprise you. I love people and relationships. I love my alone time too but I am brought to tears by the kindness, intelligence, humor and love of other people. They are amazing. They are intimidating. They are vulnerable. Beauty and color bring me life; the way they can combine in lovely arrays and provide a breathtaking moment both fleeting and joyful. My faith is in the good of humanity. My goal is to help people find the best in themselves; to honor and explore that and use that to ignite everything they do.

I'm making moves to further align my Workview and Lifeview, and I'm excited and terrified. My motivation is to be continually evolving and not stagnant. And hopefully I can dedicate my time to helping people be their best selves at work, which will hopefully extend to life. More to come, friends.

"I won't always know where I'm going, but I can always know whether I'm going in the right direction." - Designing Your Life

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Brainstew.

I am currently sitting in Odell Brewing in Rino, sipping on water and enjoying some Green Day (did you catch the title? Very fitting). I am full - today was a great day. It started off with making monkey bread with my awesome boyfriend and planning our trip to Boston (I CAN'T WAIT!). Then I drove him up to Thornton, visited my parents and had a good chat about life with mom. One of those cleansing kinds of talks that involve tears, hugs, understanding and love. It ended at Odell with a friend/coworker to talk work and life with a background playlist magically curated to us; mostly pop punk/alternative goodness from the early 2000s. I'm not going to lie - I'm the most discombobulated I feel like I've ever been and sitting on the edge of one of the most unpredictable years of my life. But I cherish these moments where it feels like it's all going to work out...(it is).

I'm used to living a templatized life. I have 4 older siblings who have lived life 8-15 years ahead of me, so I felt like I "knew" what to expect in terms of kids, marriage, etc and there would be no surprises. But what I'm realizing is that I was witnessing their lives, and they would still differ from my own. And there would be PLENTY of surprises. I'm used to validating my life against other people..."they did that and it worked out, great!" But I'm venturing into territory that is uniquely my own, and I'm simultaneously terrified and exhilarated. It feels like me, but with no one else to "validate" it but myself, it feels somehow "wrong". I'm learning that this isn't the case with help from a lot of supportive people in my life. And I'm so grateful for that.

I will end this with a letter to 2019.

Dear 2019,

How are you today? I'm doing pretty well. (This is how I write letters). I'm excited to be here with you. I feel like you will know the me-ist version of me. Are you ready? I feel like you will involve a lot of change, excitement, love, tears (of anxiety and joy), and a lot of unknown. I'm ready for it if you are. Let's do this. :)

Love,
Katie

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Beyond the binary.

I had a realization this morning...I often think of things in my life as either one thing, or another thing. If I'm not successful at work, I'm unsuccessful. If I'm not heading in a specific direction, I'm lost. If I'm not full in all aspects of my life, I'm empty. My mind has always been a friend to the gray and the in-between, but I still find myself trying to fit into the black and white. The idea of the black and white has an enticing structure when I feel like I am lacking solid footing.

But let me tell you, my life post-college has been anything but black and white.

School was easy, relatively speaking. Make good grades, be nice to people, and you will get validation of who you are as a person. (If I'm not getting A's, I'm failing. If I'm not making my friends happy, I'm a terrible friend). Everyone likes the nice person who can help them on their homework, right? College was an exciting and adventurous change, but still within a structure that was simultaneously terrifying and familiar to me. (Choose your major, choose your life path. Choose wrong, and set yourself up for a series of wrong choices). It made sense for a time...at least until I wasn't in it anymore. Then it was like the Wild West.

How many identity crises are you allowed to experience as a person? Because if there is a quota, I've likely hit it in my twenties. Since graduation, I've tried to grasp whatever sense of stability I could by continuing to seek validation from everyone but myself. How does _____ feel about my choices? What would _____ do? Does _____ like me? It was always comforting to know that I was heading along the "right" path, aka one that other people agreed with me on. The problem is, that path is the most unstable it can possibly be.

Similar to the feeling that you get when you realize your parents don't have all of the answers, I had a realization that other people don't have the answers to my life. They can have all of the opinions and advice in the world, but in the end I'm a different person than they are, and the only one of "me" they will ever know. So to give them ultimate say on what I do would be doing myself a disservice. They probably also don't want that responsibility.

And also, their feelings about everything around them (including me) are constantly changing and have almost everything to do with them, and nothing to do with me. If it has something to do with me, then they will hopefully say something. I do not have to read their minds, which is a relief, because I am usually wrong.

So, back to the drawing board. How do I find stability and flexibility within myself? The answer: start with more headspace. Listen. Leave space in my life and my thoughts for the in-between; open my mind to a curiosity of what is and what could be. Life is not black and white, and I'm learning what that means for me.

I want to live my life from the inside out.

"The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don't let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you."
-Shauna Niequist

Goodnight, friends.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Throwback Thursday - Light

As a Throwback Thursday, I wanted to post an entry that I wrote for my friend's blog back in 2016. A reminder of light-giving things!
"I love this idea, giving light. My world has been a bit dark for a little while, and there have been things that have been beautiful and anchoring.
1. Coffee
I love everything about this daily ritual. Journeying to the coffee shops, enjoying conversations with the baristas, sitting and journaling or reading or studying, drinking the delicious mix of almond milk, vanilla and espresso (my go-to). I have lived in coffee shops this past year, and although it can get pricey, it’s worth it to me.
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Latte art gets me every time.
2. Conversation
Whether it’s a small conversation with someone on the elevator, or a deep conversation with a dear friend, it’s these pieces of conversation that keep me tethered to what matters to me. I’ve always loved people, their stories, the small moments that can change a day and remind you that we’re all human and living this beautiful, challenging and changing life. We have a choice to fill each other up in these conversations, and that’s what I try to focus on.
3. Laughter
Who doesn’t like to laugh? But stand-up comedy on Netflix is something I thrive on and was the only thing I would watch at points this year. I also cherish laughs with friends and family. When you’re both laughing so hard you can’t breathe and tears come to your eyes, that is the absolute best.
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My brother and I: the beatboxing-ukulele duo
4. Dogs
Is there something that always makes you happy? For me, that’s looking at a dog (usually big and/or fluffy ones). And maybe even more so, people’s reactions to dogs. It’s like they melt, and their eyes light up with glee and they start speaking in a “dog voice.” “PUP!” … “I want him!!”… “He’s SO CUTE!” All of these spoken by yours truly when a big dog or puppy crosses my path. Someday I will get one of my own.
5. Spontaneity
My favorite plans are the spontaneous ones with other people. I think because they are created out of a desire that feels most like myself in that moment, and the stars somehow align perfectly to create a space where anything can happen and everyone’s in. “Hey, this band is in town and playing tonight! Wanna go?” or “let’s take a roadtrip” or “I want tacos right now. Let’s go!” I have met some life-changing people through spontaneous choices. I am grateful for spontaneity and the friends that join me in it!
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(SOURCE: HTTP://WEHEARTIT.COM/ENTRY/180250043)
Thank you for reading, friends!"
:)