You Are Unlimited

Today was a truly spectacular day and I’d like to tell you about it. Keep in mind, however, that I am doing this for me, not you. If it helps you along the way, though, that’s an added bonus.

My morning began with a new alarm tone, which is always refreshing. After relieving myself (hey, every body’s gotta) I sat on my bed and took five deep breaths to get some oxygen to my brain to wake me up faster, and also to bring myself awareness of this new day that Universe had given me. Next, I read the letter Nick had written me last weekend, in order to begin my day knowing that I am loved. I then read the “That Girl Manifesto” out of my new favorite book, I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones, in order to begin my day feeling empowered. When I finished boosting myself up, I dropped to the floor and pumped out (with the pace of an 80 year old turtle) ten push-ups, in order to get my blood flowing through my body. Somehow making it through that small amount of exercise, I trekked down to my kitchen and made myself some tea because what better way is there to start the day? Better yet, my Yogi Wisdom of the day was “You are unlimited.” Wow! Thank you. How did you know? Yes, I am. And truly, those three words set the tone for my entire day. I was going to live like I was unlimited. Because I am.

So I made myself a delicious, healthy, and nutritious breakfast. I made it to class early enough to print off the assignment due without hassle. My quiz and presentation both went smoothly. I had enough time before my next class to walk to my favorite coffeehouse and purchase my favorite drink. On my walk from the shop to my next class, the sun kissed my cheeks (probably giving me three thousand more freckles), the bright blue sky held endless possibilities, and the green green grass energized me. How lucky am I to live in such a beautiful state and attend a university with such a beautiful campus?

While my next two classes were unusually dry, I reminded myself of not only how lucky I am to be attending a great university but also of how much I love learning. These reminders made the classes much more bearable and actually helped me to pay attention better. In fact, I volunteered an opinion for the first time in my Feminist Theory class, and I followed an entire documentary without zoning out in my Civil Rights Movement class.

When class finished for the day, I had enough time to get ready before heading off to work for the night. I tried a new workout with my client and she did a stellar job. She even asked to work with me more often in a week than she does right now! I feel very lucky to already be doing what I love and to be reassured that I am good at doing what I love.

The rest of my shift was a cake walk. The gym members were friendly and talkative, I didn’t have to clean any of the machines, and the hours didn’t drag by. I am so grateful to myself for taking the initiative to apply for this job and quit my old job, because it has been a very rewarding switch. I am also grateful for the wonderful boss I now have, who fought to get me a raise, which will help me to pay the many bills that will be piling up soon and also allow me to continue to support my favorite non-profits.

I arrived home after work and had the wonderful opportunity to sit and talk with my roommate and friend in our living room. This is her first year living in this apartment with me, and it’s been a blast. I am lucky to have such an amazing friend and woman in my life (hi Kate). A little later, my second roommate and friend arrived home, and we shared a good laugh together, which is always filling.

TODAY WAS SO MAGNIFICENT. When you live every moment glad that you’re alive and grateful for what you have, the entire day is changed. Even small inconveniences, like having to run up the stairs three times because you kept forgetting stuff in your bedroom, add to the wonderfulness of the day because you have strong legs that can carry you up and down those stairs countless times. Today I lived my life like I was unlimited, because I am. What a feeling. 

Anam Cara

This evening I began reading Alexis Jones’ I Am That Girl. All I managed to read through, before I had to stop and think about my entire life up to this point and how I want it to be from here on out, was the beautiful Foreword by my woman crush and role model, Sophia Bush. She discusses what we all know; that basically from birth, girls are expected to partake in an invisible and unspoken competition that pits girl against girl. She also discusses the solution; To celebrate one another for all achievements, whether they be more traditional or more radical. To love one another like our own sister. And most importantly, I think, to love ourselves like we are our own best friend. Side note: Sophia Bush is everything I want to be and I wish her and I could be best friends and activists together, she’s so beautiful and kind and inspiring and awesome. Buying the book was worth it just for the Foreword.

Anyway. End SB rant.

Reading about something we all live through as girls and womyn, and thinking about how it has affected my life and how I live it, has inspired me to work harder on my relationships with the womyn already in my life. Sophia talks of her friendship with Alexis, the author. She celebrates the amazing woman that Alexis is and calls “Lex” her “soul sister”. It’s a friendship that’s survived years and distances and it’s still strong and beautiful. And I want that. I want numerous soul sisters to go through life with, to celebrate, to love, to be inspired by, and to inspire. And the thing is, is that so many of these womyn are already in my life. I just have to take the steps to strengthen our relationships with each other. I want more coffee dates, longer conversations, deeper laughs, and all around more love with my ladies. It’s my senior year of college and I want Wine Wednesdays and drunken Saturday nights at the bars/clubs (although maybe not so much clubs in Mount Peazy…). I want to be surrounded by unique, strong, beautiful womyn. I want to be surrounded by my friends, and carry them through life with me.

So I began immediately. I contacted two lady friends (hey Sarah and Tori) and made an amazing friend date for this coming Thursday. I plan to set up more roommate hangouts with the three lovely ladies I am lucky enough to live with this year. I will delve deeper into my coffee dates with Andrea every week. I am excited to meet all the amazing new womyn I’ll be working with in SAPA this year. It will be great. It will be extraordinary. It will be legendary and unforgettable.

“In Celtic tradition, an Anam Cara is a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide. With the Anam Cara, you can share your innermost self to reveal the hidden intimacies of your life, your mind, and your heart,” writes Sophia Bush. When you translate Anam Cara, it means “soul friend”. 

Will you be my soul friend? Will you be my sister from another mister? Will you conquer the world with me?

Kindergarten to Degree

Today was my last first day of class forever (probably). That means this is my sixteenth year of waking up early on a weekday morning in August, packing my backpack, and heading off to school. It’s bizarre and totally surreal. Sixteen years of bagged lunches, standardized tests, new friends, cold desks, notebooks filled with notes, and not really having to take full responsibility for any of my actions. Sixteen years of long, hot, lazy summers. Sixteen years of sometimes working, sometimes not, and it not really mattering either way. Sixteen years of learning some very incredible things. And now it’s my last year.

Growing up is so weird. Many people have written on this. At first you’re young, and you love every minute of it, and growing old is something that happens to other people because there’s no way you won’t spend eternity playing in the sprinkler in your backyard on a hot summer with your siblings and your parents. And then you get excited to get older because suddenly you’re to double digits and you’re a big fifth grader, and then you get to start *middle school*, that dreamed about location you’ve only heard about from your older sibling. And then middle school is rough, because the girls are mean and the boys are stupid, and you dream of getting to high school, so things will get better. Your parents start to annoy you and all of a sudden you just can’t get any privacy around here! You start hearing about “pot” and alcohol, but you’ll never touch that stuff. And then you’re fifteen and sixteen and you’re learning to drive and get your license and that’s when you feel free, because you can go anywhere. And then smoking weed and drinking start to seem kinda fun and dangerous and you want to try them and you have even more secrets to hide from your parents. This furthers the divide between you and them and you sometimes get sad at night that you’re growing up so fast, but in the daylight, you’re having so much fun you don’t care. And then you’re moving away to college and it’s the first time you’ve ever lived away from home. You put on a good face but it’s hard to meet good people, and boys are still stupid, and you realize how much your parents did for you all those years. You cry yourself to sleep for a couple weeks. But then you begin meeting people, and you get involved, and you discover what you’re really passionate about. You go home less and less. You meet the love of your life. And then you get your own apartment, and you have to cook for yourself and clean up after yourself and take near full responsibility for your own life. You have to learn how to budget, you fight with your roommates, you get scared the love of your life will break your heart one day. And suddenly you wish you were eight years old again, back in your childhood home with your parents (who still loved each other then) and your big brother (who was still around then) and your little sister, eating macaroni and cheese and making a mess of coloring books or the Lego blocks in your basement. You realize you took advantage of the ease and safety of childhood. You realize you can never go back. Nostalgia infiltrates everything – the scent of your clothes when you take them out of the dryer, a summer sunset, the taste of ice cream, a particular tree, catching a random whiff of scent that smells just like your mom. 

And what can you do? Unfortunately, crying isn’t a time machine. And each day that goes by, you continue to get older. So you just make the most of it. You go out and laugh with friends, you get further in your studies and discover what you want to do for the rest of your life, you find safety in your soulmate. You talk about this pain and this nostalgia with friends and realize they’ve all been feeling the same way. You start to feel better. You realize that your childhood was incredible and has helped you get to where you are, but now you’re in your 20s and you get to make yourself exactly who you want to be, surrounded by other people that love you and are doing the same thing. 

And it’s okay. It’s all okay. The second part of your life will be even better than the first. You won’t settle for anything less.

So here’s to my last year. Here’s to eating up all the information I possibly can about everything. Here’s to making memories I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Here’s to making friendships I’ll still have in five, ten, twenty years. Here’s to making myself exactly how I’d like to be, surrounded by people I love that love me too. I’m excited. It’s going to be a great year.

Summertime Sadness

This has been a heavy and challenging week for me, and many others. Sunday night Nick moved out of my apartment and back into his residence hall. He’s been busy all day every day since with training. I fall asleep alone (after lying awake for hours telling myself the noises I hear aren’t burglars or ghosts), I wake up alone, I eat every meal alone, I go to work out alone. My only social interaction this week, aside from a brief coffee date and the brief time spent with Nick and his staff last night, has been the members that come into the gym I work for. And then I come home and sit alone all day with HGTV playing nonstop just so there’s noise in the apartment. I’m working on a couple canvases for the apartment, and I’m trying to slowly clean and tidy up the place before my roommates move in, and I started a new book (Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings), but I’m still lonely all day, every day. 

Which has made everything else that’s happened in this week even harder. Robin Williams’ unexpected death hit me harder than I ever thought it would, just as it did with many. The only conversation I had about it though was a handful of texts to people. Not enough when something is so heavy. Which is probably why, even today, my eyes still burn when I come across a picture of him. 

And then there’s everything that’s happening in Ferguson. The inhumanity and oppression and flashback to the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. It’s hard to watch and listen to again and again. I cannot even imagine if the color of my skin were different or if I lived there or near there. This, on top of Gaza, on top of the mass amount of anti-feminists that still exist, on top of Fox News being awful as always…I lost hope in the world and social change and justice this week. That’s hard enough on its own but it’s even harder with Nick being gone and unable to talk about it or face the awfulness with me.

I’m very sad this week. I haven’t stopped being sad since Sunday. A weight is resting heavy on my chest. I’m too tired to lift it off.

“I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.”

Neutrality In The Face Of Injustice Will Kill Us All

I met a good friend for coffee today so we could rant for a couple hours about social injustice. We discussed racism, anti-feminists, ableism, poverty/homelessness, and the war on Gaza. Let’s call my friend Jordan, a nice, genderless name. Jordan was recently over in China. We compared homelessness/begging there to how it is here. Jordan said the last time they checked out the news online, there was an article about the life of Kim Kardashian and nothing about the man that was shot and killed for picking up a toy gun. Why is it that we care more about a celebrity that has done nothing good for the world and ignore the issues of oppression and injustice in the world? Jordan suggested that when we check out the news, we get through all the meaningless Kardashian-style news and by the time we reach the news that truly matters, our energy is spent and we no longer care enough to read further or do anything about it. 

Children are being bombed in Gaza.

Black men are being shot because of the color of their skin.

Women are being raped every day.

Robin Williams and thousands of others are taking their lives.

The poor and the beaten and the needy are being ignored.

The disabled are constantly hearing phrases that degrade them.

What are we doing about it? What is the government doing about it? What are you doing about it?

At the very least, skip the fluff and read the important news stories. At the very least, educate yourself. Then, if you’re feeling bold, make a donation to a good cause. Educate those around you on an issue that sticks out to you. Boost news stories that need to be heard, like the 50,000 people that marched in Washington for Gaza. Support physical and mental health – learn the signs of depression. Give a sandwich to the homeless person you see every day on your way to work. Stop being a zebra and do something about injustice.

Fight for justice for all.

Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

The Weekend Wants Change

Let’s begin with the smaller change. Saturday morning I got my hair cut with the goal of having Sophia Bush’s current hairstyle. It ended up a little shorter than I would have liked, but overall I’m pleased with the length and my budding ability to style it. In the 24 hours I’ve had this new hairstyle, I’ve yet to achieve the look I really want, but I’m hoping by the time classes start in a couple weeks I’ll have it down pat. This change was small but it was also a risk. If it didn’t turn out right, I could have looked very funny for a month or two before it grew out. But my dear friend Mujan encouraged me to try something new for my last year of college and I’m glad I did!

The bigger, and more sad change, is that today is the day Nick officially moves out of the apartment. While I should just be happy and grateful that we were lucky enough to spend the entire summer living together as a trial run for the future, I grew very used to going to bed and waking up next to Nick, eating breakfast and lunch and dinner across the table from him, dancing around his mess of clothes on the floor and his stuff in the bathroom, and, the most fun of all, showering together. There’s nothing like spending the long and lazy days of summer with your best friend and love of your life. We grew so much together in these few short months. I should stop moping though. I know I’ll see him almost every single day of this semester, and we can still spend all our weekends together like we always do. Plus, in a year or so, we’ll probably/hopefully/maybe be living together officially in our very own apartment, and not the one my three roommates abandoned for the summer.

So today, while Nick is off bonding with his staff and his new boss, I’ll spend time cleaning the apartment and making it mine again. And maybe I’ll practice a little more on my hair.

Michelle the Powerlifter

I’d say it has a pretty nice ring to it. Something I could put on my website bios and future business cards, right?

Backstory: In January of this year I learned how to powerlift. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, the three powerlifting moves include deadlift, (back) squat, and bench press. Anywho, in the last eight months, I’ve made these three moves the core part of my regular weekly workouts. In May, I was hired at a different gym in town than the University fitness center I had been working at, so I began working out there instead. The best part of this switch (other than the people, the aesthetics, the machines, and everything else) is the two Olympic platforms my new gym has! Not to mention a not-usually-crowded bench and two squat racks. Now, since switching, I usually end up working out at the same time as actual powerlifting competitors which means they watch me struggle and sometimes succeed in improving my lifts.

On Saturday, they all (by they all I seriously mean half the people at the gym) competed in a powerlifting competition and many of them ranked pretty high, three of the guys earning the first three spots. Now they’re trying to persuade me to enter a competition someday soon. The next one is November 1st. While I’m not going to enter that one because it’s the morning after Halloween (my favorite already and literally the one time a year I get shamelessly hammered), I am definitely considering doing one in the future. Right now, spring of 2015 is looking decent. This gives me time to save money, improve my lifts, and also convince Nick to do the competition with me because at our spontaneous date night I wrote about a couple days we discussed the idea of one day entering together.

SO, that’s what’s new in the world of the real life Merida.