2015: Concluding an Era

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I wrote about 2015 almost 1 year ago. I re-read that post and it is scary how accurate it was. 

When I was a teenager, a former mentor told me she was concluding a great era of her life, I was confused. Weren't era's consisting of a long life span? And isn't this woman in her late 20's? But that is exactly what 2015 was for me, concluding a major era of my life and preparing me to begin a new one. 

In Pageantry, I’ve been involved in every aspect in every major system. My friends have aged out and my former clients are now the coaches and consultants. In the non-profit, my co-founder | friend and I are now at the phase where our first corps members from 2012 are now the college students and mentors. We have funding for the next year – every non-profiteers yearly relief!

Post graduate school, I’ve been a practicing professional for 3 years.  I've been officially telling people I will be leaving my current role this year. I love my work. I have the coolest and most inspiring students and the best colleagues. I've gotten to do everything I've ever wanted to do in this job, but I also feel someone new can come in and do my job better than me with a fresh lens. I can’t help, but be incredibly sad to be leaving something that has shaped over half of my 20’s, yet I am looking forward to what is to come and in the mean time, I intend to be joyful in the present.

I have no idea where I’ll end up this year. I’m looking at my situation with the attitude, I can do, go, or be whatever and how amazing is that? I have the ability to go in the direction that God has intended without anything holding me back. That doesn’t mean I will have a job right away, it may mean I struggle. But I get to choose. 

You may be reading this and think “good for you” or “glad everything is in order”, but interwoven in those bright moments during this era were very long days, weeks, or even months. I was depressed and have been to counseling 3 times in 5 years. I found out my mom had cancer and she is still battling it. I’ve been to more funerals than weddings. I had a broken heart from my first love and let’s be real, those are the worst. I was assaulted. People screwed me over…and about 1000 other things that could have let me think good riddance to this era of life. But I choose not to, because I can’t help but feel this era was so breathtakingly rich – full of adventure, discovery, crossed off bucket lists, goals achieved, beautiful people, and every other type of positive learning experience. I learned who I was in this era and who I’m not. I know sense of self is always evolving, but there is something gratifying about summarizing all that one has learned from emerging as a young adult to…let’s use this term loosely, an adult.

I’ve learned I can be both ambitious and gracious with myself. I can be both guarded and open to new. I can stand up for others and myself, yet be kind. I can forgive and actually forgive. I can be a goal setter and someone who values rest and seasons of ordinary. I can serve others without losing my sense of self. I am happy – with or without being in romantic love. With or without children. With or without amounts of disposable money. As long as I'm serving Christ and his purpose for my life - I'm good.  I don’t mind living my life in extremes. I can love with my whole entire being and I can welcome strangers and make them my family. I value memories and experiences over things. I believe in simplifying and selectivity. I have created a relationship with Christ – one not of my family or something that organized religion taught me. But I’ve also learned I can love a church too. I discovered that I have people in my life who are rooting for me. People who love life with the same charisma as I do and if not 10 times more than I ever will. I re-discovered the value of my parents, family, and the appreciation of a deep connection.

In this era, I found my backbone, my guts and values, and in closing this era, and walking into the unknown of the next, I am free.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

Downtown Denver: Keeping it local

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Flyer Girl and I have similar sentiments during travel - we eat, purchase, and do things locally. If I have to go to a big box store it is because it's like Target and I need meds. 

Our itinerary post Union Station: Links included!
Fashion Trucks - Apparently this is a thing.
Tattered Cover Bookstore - Shelves on shelves of books and uncovered adventure.
Sputnik Bar - Who wouldn't want a 1PM booze? Pretty hipster. Say yes to a drink and no to the food.
Linger - great tapas and they're foods from the different continents.
Bazaar - Fun local artists and artisans with plenty of beverages.

Enjoy a bit of Denver and a dash of Fall!

Downtown Denver: Union Station

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I wanted to experience Fall, so I went to Colorado in October. I unexpectedly got to spend the beginning of Fall in South Dakota too. So, I got twice the fall treat this year! You can read other reasons why I traveled to Colorado, HERE.

Denver has revitalized its downtown area in the last 3 years. Growing up 8 hours from Denver, this was the major city we traveled to when we needed to fly or catch a baseball game. It has always been very industrial and I remember almost getting stabbed in front of the capitol building at 13 during a drug deal. Yes, that is the Denver I remember and did not recognize this time around - ha! I think my cat is jealous of the 9+ lives I've been fortunately granted.

It was a gorgeous Fall Day with minimal traffic downtown Denver. There were several cute fashion trucks...Yes, much like food trucks, but with etsy-like jewelry flocked to every curb corner. My favorite though in Union Station includes the endless amount of coffee shops and boutiques each with its own personality. Oh and you must get a boozey milkshake. Unless you don't like alcohol, then at least get a milkshake from Milkbox, you will have 0 regrets. That is unless you're lactose intolerant, then that just sucks, and I recommend checking out something that will make your trip more pleasant :)

Thank you for spending time with me, so in exchange for time, I also want to mention I spent the whole day in gratitude for Flyer girl, who has traveled in 3 major cities with me and she still tolerates me! I am also grateful for deep conversation and experiencing Denver from an adult (yeah I'm using that word loosely) perspective because Denver has always felt like another home to me.

What makes you grateful during travel?

Denver, you're a beaut!
New-ish remodeled union station in downtown Denver

Flyer Girl and I met in grad school in 2011!
Recommending the Butterscotch & Bourbon 
Inside one of the cute shops, I couldn't let this postcard stay on the shelf!

Relationship status shaming

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Garden of the gods - Colorado Springs, CO

Once Halloween ends, it seems like we are in a race against the holidays. Gift shopping, making plans to see loved ones, and figuring out how to celebrate a new year. Let's face it, 2015 is wrapping up and although I am one to get a little too excited about the holidays, it's also the season of evaluating your romantic relationship status. While several people who have a significant other are focusing on where they will spend the holidays meaning which family do they see or split time with, I'm in the relationship camp where I'm working on what kind of answers do I give when I have to answer the most dreaded single person question... "Are you seeing somebody?"....Sometimes I want to be like, seeing who? A counselor? My family?...Just to confuse people into thinking I didn't actually understand the question, this usually leads to an awkward reply, No, I'm not. I'm single. Which always leads to a surprising reaction of sadness or pity from the other person.

I've always been confused by that reaction. Since when does single mean being sad? Don't worry, this isn't one of those, Why being single is so great posts. I think that whatever your relationship status there will be something great about your life. What concerns me most is the relationship status shaming that goes on from both sides of the relationship spectrum. Being single, I am not single because I don't want a husband or to have a family. I desire those things, eventually, when I'm ready for them. My singleness isn't a disease or sickness looking to be cured.  I am content creating my own lifestyle on my own terms and in my own way. It's not meant for everybody, but it's meant for me in the season of life I'm in.

Breaking up this serious post with my cutie pie nephew photo

But let's not forget how great us single folks are at shaming those in relationships. Making our friends feel guilty for not hanging out with us as much because our friends have a significant other. We end up saying things like "If we were in a relationship I would never do this, this and that"...well guess what? We single folks aren't in a relationship, can we actually make that judgement rationally? Probably not. Or even worse - we look at our married friends with or without children and think they "settled" or that they got married too soon and didn't fully experience life. Which is absolutely absurd. Most of my friends married (or taken) with or without children are living their dream life and they are doing everything they wanted to do as an individual, but they are living life alongside their best friend in the process. How magical is that?!

And what about those in between? Single parents? Or parents who wish to have children, but can't have them? Or those separated or divorcing? What about everybody else that falls in the middle of the spectrum? Are we all going to shame each other because of our relationship status? I sure hope not. 

Let's be grateful for every person in every life path regardless of their relationship status. As a single person, my worth is more than my relationship status and my loved ones who are married or taken are more than just theirs as well.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Being selective does not mean being rude, disrespectful, or neglectful, it means choosing and choosing well.

Being selective can also be interpreted in several ways. However, I want to keep it simple:

I spend time with people who care about me and who inspire me to better and in return I do the same for them. Don't settle, you adapt your tribe's habits, make sure they're at least good ones. 

I only add people/events/things to my calendar that I like. 

I love being in a variety of time consuming roles. This means cutting out the unnecessary obligations from my life. This doesn't mean burning bridges or pissing people off, it just means being diligent in how I utilize time. Example - I stopped getting coffee with so many people. People who I started to feel obligated to see. Removing these hangouts made my schedule more free for people I wanted to actually connect with.

I make my own decisions.
I may ask others questions or for their thoughts, but I make my own decisions and I've stopped feeling bad for disappointing people who were upset I didn't make the decision they had for my life...Because it was never theirs to have.

26: Take more risks, Do what makes me more happy & holy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 has been a gem. Turning 26 in March hasn't been so bad either. I haven't blogged in awhile, but a sweet friend and my first and former boss from graduate school just started one with her husband. You can read their story here: Life as a famiLee

Her writing has inspired me to start somewhere again, and I've decided to talk about 26. With a great friend passing in April, I've been thinking of the good memories I've had with him, including this past winter getting stranded in Denver and he came over to entertain me until my flight...laughing as I type this. I also think about what I loved about him and how I can help his legacy.

I decided like several of his family and friends, the best way to keep his legacy is to live like him. In his 23 years of life, he lived more than most people do with 80 years.

So, this is how I plan to Live Like Jannik:
  • Take risks and experience more firsts
  • Do more of what makes me happy & holy
  • "No rules"...I will get to that one later ;)
May's Living Like Jannik...

How I took risks or experienced more firsts 
- I started volunteering at my Church to connect new people into our congregation. I typically like more personal roles in Church like a small group leader or a Sunday School Teacher, but this is good re-energizer for me. Trying a new role, mixin' it up :)
- I cut off a friendship that was toxic to me and it has almost been a month. I feel myself healing every day and it's liberating.
- I inherited a lovely pet named Olive!

What I did that made me happy 
- I took my staff to a San Francisco Giants game! I loved getting to experience the beautiful game of baseball with them.
- Met my baby nephew for the first time.
What I tried to encourage myself to be more "Holy" 
- I started reading about my Christian Faith more devoutly and praying more intentionally for others. Asking people specifically what I can pray for them, even if it was awkward to ask because I didn't know them well.

....Now, the only rebel at heart, but external rule follower in me can't completely embrace Jannik's "no rules" life philosophy, but it has encouraged me to live life the way I want to, not the way I should.
This photo has been used at several memorial services and captures exactly who he is.
Cheers bud, 26 is for you!

New York City

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Some fall in love with people easily. Others with things or money. I belong in the category of falling in love with places, lots of them.

I try and travel one place a year that is either new or that I am craving to go. This year, I chose New York City - I had never been and I also wanted to meet up with a friend (DLT) who I hadn't seen since college. 

Travel is always a comedy show with DLT & I. Whether it is losing our keys, delayed flights, dying phones, getting lost, being the least prepared people to travel in America's most populated city, or random/creepy comments from strangers (this all happened in 12 hours by the way)....Can't say I was ever bored on this trip. 

Although it was quite the adventure to explore NYC by foot, there are a few things that travel always reminds me:
  • Home is a feeling for me. 
  • There are a lot of beautiful and kind people in this world.
  • It's always worth the money.

I've always said my heart is sprinkled in every place I've been to. Connecting with people who live a different life than me is my own addiction, and although I may screech when I see my bank account, travel is always worth the money. Every single time.

What does travel teach or remind you?
DLT and I at the 911 Memorial
Times Square
View at the top of the Empire State Building
911 Memorial
I got to celebrate my 26th with people who range from who I knew in kindergarten all the way through graduate school! 
First Broadway Show I've seen!
My favorite NYC area: SoHo
Grand Central Station. Every history nerd's dream.
Attractions we squeezed in: Times Square, Grand Central Station, eat New York Cheesecake, twice. The Empire State Building view at the top, Grand Central Station, Union Square, Madison Square Garden, the 911 Memorial, NYU Art Museum, saw Les Mis on Broadway and explored all the different neighborhoods that comprise of NYC.

It is possible to glaze over NYC in a weekend!

Pageantry: Why I stay involved

Friday, January 9, 2015

In pageantry, I have been a teen competitor, titleholder, recruiter, judge, coach, state director, emcee, committee member, choreographer, auditions host, a shoulder to cry on, an errand runner, and just about everything else in between...and every year as I start to list the reasons of why I stay involved, I also come to defend pageantry from people who misinterpret what pageantry is about. So, as the pageant season begins and I start to remember why I stay involved, I wanted to share 3 life defining philosophies that I learned through pageantry that apply to my daily life.

In a world where there are riots after sporting events, pageantry has taught me about sportsmanship. Specifically how to lose with grace. If anyone really knows me and has seen my childhood room stacked with loot, it's an understatement to say that I was competitive, but I lost more than I won. My mentors always said, "Winning builds confidence, losing builds character"...Well I guess I pursued a lot of character building ;)

In fact, the last pageant I ever competed in, I was 1st runner up and I aged out that year. If you know anyone that has competed, they will agree that 2nd runner up is an easier feeling than 1st runner up. Because when you are 1st runner up, you'll always ask...What could I have done differently? So, as hard as it was to fight back tears that night, I chose to happily support the new winner. Because that night was not about me, in fact that whole pageant wasn't about me. Friendship over ego.

Secondly, you may notice, I am not the most fit woman in the world, but pageantry taught me to have a positive body image and self esteem. In some cases, yes pageantry reinforces stereotypes of what societal beauty is, but pageantry made me feel confident in who I am in my physical, mental, and emotional well being. Pageantry taught me that I was competing against myself. Learning that I am my own competition is a reminder to not play the comparison game in ANYTHING I do.

Finally, pageantry has taught me to encourage other strong leaders. Other contestants became some of my closest friends. They were women who were like minded - who wanted to make their worlds a better place.

When someone moves to a new city, they want to find a new church, a new bar, or a new hang out. However, I look for another pageant family. Because just like the other communities I listed, I know a pageant family will share my love for leadership, self improvement, and the value of education (not just school, but life experiences). Now obviously, amazing parents, friendships, employment, team sports, and my formal education have also shaped each of these 3 philosophies for me, but not in the capacity that pageantry has.

So to all those involved with pageantry at any level, thank you for what you do.

2015: ????

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 1, 2015: Arriving back to my current home.

It's a week into the New Year and I've been batting around ideas for 2015. I've mentioned that my goal setting starts each school year because of what I do, but I always attempt a new year with a fresh perspective. More of a check-in of where I was 6 mos ago.

2015, if I'm being honest with you, I'm not really sure what to expect, unlike 2014: The Year of "Can't Live Without".

I can't tell you specific things I want to do in 2015 or even things I hope come true, but I do know 2015 is prepping me for a major change. I know in my gut, which is rarely wrong, the next change I make in my life will affect the next 5 years after. So, I want to be strategic in 2015 with whatever I do. How I take risks, where I invest my time and money, who I influence and let influence me...it's a year of planning for transition.

2015 is a mystery and I am sure it has a lot of surprises that will make me oo and ahh, Like any year, some things will fall short of my expectations and some will exceed them further than I had imagined for myself.

I am happy to be in 2015, stay tuned for what's to come and I look forward to what 2015 brings to my loved ones!

Best Friend Vacation

Thursday, January 1, 2015

December went by in a blink. I haven't had a chance to write about my Women's Leadership Institute Experience - which was AMAZING and my best friend vacation. In short, I took away professional ideas, but one session resonated with me when the speaker said "Don't treat your students and co workers like gold and then treat your family and friends like ****". 

My oh my how that one pinched right at my nerve. How I don't exist to my family and friends in August and May or how I expect them to understand the demands of my job, which sometimes means I can't answer my phone for long periods of time throughout the day...which then builds up to weeks without talking to my family.

I was happy to have some down time where my best friend from Alaska joined me in Southern California. It was nice to have some quality time catching up on life. Long distance friendships are hard, but I think we've always made it work. Mostly because although she is a total bad ass, she is also gracious and kind to me even when I am not being a very good friend. 

Between good drinks, great food, friendship piercings, and wading in the ocean together, it was just nice to be in company with someone that has known me since I was in Middle School where you don't need to explain anything, she just knows. 

That's what Best Friends are for. It's not just about the conversation, it's being comfortable in silence knowing what the other is already thinking-feeling.
Ritz-Carlton, our hotel at the Women's Leadership Institute
Santa Monica Pier
Dana point harbor light show
HS Cheer Captains, College Roomies, Road Trip Warriors, and Vacation Besties.

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