Because It's What Brings Us Together

Today is a pretty big day, November 4, 2014. It's an election day. Out of all of the days in the year, today just so happens to be one of my absolute favorites. 

Not because my intense competitive nature is dying to see who wins or loses. Not because I get a free sticker at the polls. Not because I'm ready to spend my spare time on the internet doing something other than reading about politicians and campaign spending. 

I love today, because today WE are ALL doing these things, feeling these things, anticipating these things.

At this day in age, it has become fairly common knowledge that politics is not a fair game. We're living during a time in this country where money most definitely buys happiness, (at least where corporations and politics are concerned). More money was spent on campaigns for this midterm election than on any other election in history. The internet is plastered and smeared in news articles blaming this side for that, and that side for this, not to mention the elusive sides of the story who are hiding backstage and working the politicians like puppets. 

not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

synonyms: insincere, dishonest, untruthful, false, deceitful, duplicitous, lying, mendacious;

For most people, "disingenuous" describes the taste left behind by American politics. Rightfully so. For me personally, I don't buy into much of the political warfare and theatrical mind games. Honestly, I think the majority of politicians deserve a Tony Award rather than an honorable title. But as odd as it may sound, even though I've quit believing in politics, I still believe in voting

Why? If I actually think the system is one big real world version of Monopoly, (where those who own the most, control the game), why even put forth the effort to vote?

Because, voting is what brings us all together, as a united front.

Even though we won't all vote the same, even though we all have different beliefs, worries, desires,  and visions, even though we argue on Facebook about the integrity of each party's politicians, VOTING is what we have in common. VOTING is what reinforces the fact that WE still care. VOTING is the thing that defines US as the public, and THEM as the representatives. VOTING binds people together as dreamers and maintains a collective hope that if we are all in this thing together we can make a change. 

So, I'm asking everyone to remember that today. When you find yourself disagreeing with someone's political stance, or when you feel like the whole thing is an impossible uphill battle, please remember that right or left, red or blue, up or down, in or out, WE the VOTERS are on the same side. 

The side that works together in maintaining hope. 
A hope that can, and will, drive change.

"Voting is the hope that sustains one generation to the next."

"When I say our votes matter, I speak not out of some mystical belief in 'the will of the people' but because elections – imperfect as they are, twisted and smattered by smears and lies and counter-lies galore, subject to distortion and manipulation – elections offer an alternative to violence, they keep us from coming apart altogether." -Bill Moyers


Slow down you say? I don't think so.

I am absolutely terrified of stagnancy. There are few things I hate more than the feeling of a stagnant period in life. It is the way I am built, I have felt this way my entire life. The minute I feel as if life has quit moving forward, I panic. I just can't help it. I embrace change with a reckoning force, and I will always choose change over a period of staleness, (even if it brings stress or anxiety with it).

For some reason, this personality trait of mine concerns people. I mean, REALLY concerns people. I can't even tell you how many times someone has told me to, "cut yourself a little slack," "slow down and smell the roses," or my favorite, "why don't you just take a break from everything and enjoy life?"

In truth, there's nothing wrong with the concern. I know that all of this advice is offered from the only perspective people understand... their own. For quite some time, though, all of these perspectives and concerns made me second guess everything I was doing. It created an underlying guilt that I was missing out on life and an anxiety that I was just simply doing life wrong.

So, here is my attempt to help everyone understand my strategy in life, and hopefully to bring some peace and shared understanding to anyone who lives like I do, and who may feel the guilt and anxiety that can accompany it.

I refuse to grow stale. This does not mean that I refuse to rest, or lack the ability to enjoy life's simple beauties. The best way I know how to describe my tactics, is to explain that my strategy in life is the exact same as my strategy in mountain climbing. Anyone who has ever hiked with me, can attest to what I'm about to tell you.

 I am not afraid to stop on the way up.

My mountain friends are probably laughing as they read that statement, because this is something they know ALL too well. Practically every. single. time. I see a flat surface with a good view, my butt is on the ground, and my water bottle is at my mouth. You see, I have a goal set when I start at the bottom of the mountain....that goal is to reach the top, by any means necessary. I am far too competitive and stubborn to give up on that goal. However, I get tired. (Sometimes embarrassingly quickly).

This is most likely due to the fact that I don't pace myself. I can't. I literally don't know how.

I start out that trail so hell-bent on reaching the summit that I push forward without any regard to maintaining my energy. I don't stop on the trail to drink water, (waste of time), I don't stop on the trail to take deep breaths, (waste of time), and I certainly don't walk slowly in order to preserve energy, (where's the fun in that?). So when I see that perfectly flat rock overlooking a gorge or some beautiful picturesque landscape, a natural force as strong as gravity drags my ass right to it. Sometimes, I even joke as I'm sitting there, that "this is far enough....this is a pretty view...it can't be THAT much prettier at the top..." But then as I sit there, the stagnancy washes over me, my competitive nature kicks in, and my dreams of reaching the top take over.

That is my life in a nutshell. I'm a dreamer, a goal-setter, and I'm hell-bent on getting there. I don't know how to pace myself. And I don't want to. Let me tell you why.

I enjoy the race, I am driven by the adrenaline of it.  
I learn and grow and become more of the person I want to be during these times that everyone else perceives as overwhelming craziness. 
And on top of all of that, BECAUSE I have raced up the trail without breaking for rest, I get to spend more time sitting on the flat rock than the average joe has the opportunity to.

I get the satisfaction of knowing that I took to that trail with everything that I had, that I walked up the mountain as a force to be reckoned with. And the minute I see my opportunity to rest, I not only take it, but I get to enjoy it more intensely and for longer than the person who took the time to "slow down and smell the roses" along the way.

So which life strategy is the better one:
1. The pace yourself and rest along the way, so as to never reach the overwhelming stage of tiredness
2. The force to be reckoned with, who both blazes the trail AND rests on the rock at their own intense and preferred pace


We are different people. We have different life purposes, and with that comes different life strategies. To assume one strategy is healthier than another is as absurd as assuming an individual's role in the universe is more important than another's.

So, next time you think to yourself that it is your duty to express concern, when you think to yourself that someone must be absolutely crazy to live their lives at a degree of intensity that makes you sweat to even think about....consider this: we know what we're doing, we love the way that we're doing it, and we were built to not only endure the crazy, but to thrive in it. 

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. 

The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.  

And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs


That moment when... it all comes together.

"That moment when......"

Recognize those words? I'm sure you do. Those 3 words show up on my Facebook newsfeed more often than buzzfeed quizzes. (And we all know that's A LOT).

Recently, I've read all of these statuses on my newsfeed:
"That moment when... 
everyone around me is in a relationship and I'm awkwardly sitting there like, 'I love my dog.'"

"That moment when... 
you take off your high heel shoes, and somehow it feels like that was the first breath you took today."

"That moment when... 
your new baby smiles for the first time and you forget about everything else that sucked today."

"That moment when... 
there are seven textbooks piled on your desk and you're looking at them and thinking, 'Damn that's an overwhelmingly impossible amount of reading material.' And then you receive an email from Amazon concerning the late delivery of 2 more textbooks on their way........😑"
  ^^^ That last one is MY most recent Facebook status ^^^

So you get the picture. You know exactly what I'm referring to.

This happens to be one of my favorite things about social media. I hear people say all the time that social media is ruining our ability to live in the present. That we are so focused on documenting our entire lives that we have completely forgotten how to just be present and live in the moment.

Well, maybe that's true, maybe it's not. Regardless, the silver lining is this - whether people are fully focused on living the present moment at hand or not, people are pausing life to capture that moment. Never before have we been able to actually freeze frame time to capture a moment so easily. 

To pause life around you, and take the time to share your moment, that is big. Truly, I don't care if your moment is eating a sandwich or marrying your best friend. Because really, that's the great thing about MOMENTS

Sometimes a moment is something so simple and minute. It can carry little to zero weight in the grand scheme of life. Yet, it still means something to you, even on the smallest scale. And then, there are times when one single moment has the ability to rearrange your entire life. Sometimes, if you compare one moment to months or years of life, the moment will win. SOMETIMES, one moment is the only thing you have in your life that's telling you, you're on the right path.

A moment. 

Today I had a pretty great moment. I'm not sure if its equivalent to eating a hell of a sandwich or falling in love. I'm sure I won't know the actual role this moment will play in my life for years to come. But, what I do know is that this moment made me feel like I am on the right track. And that makes it pretty important to me right now.

TODAY, my senior capstone research proposal was approved. 

On Monday of last week, (day 1 of the semester), I presented my first proposal to the professor that would be overseeing this year long project. It was rejected. Bummer. It was something I am passionate about, it was a topic I wanted to devote a year to, it was a subject that will help me tremendously in the Graduate Programs I am interested in. But it was rejected, and I had until Wednesday of this week to get a proposal approved. So, I reworked it. I changed the thesis somewhat, but I held on strong to my original topic.

And today, when I presented my second proposal, she nodded her head yes. 

That was a really, really awesome moment.  

It was one of those moments where something inside of me felt aligned. It was one of those moments that reassured me, that everything I have worked so hard for has a purpose. And sometimes, when life is swallowing you whole, you need to be able to ignore everything else around you that is present, and turn your entire focus to that one single moment... because that moment wins against everything else.


It's Time to Get Real.

Everyone blames Hollywood for setting our relationships up for unrealistic bliss, which inevitably ends in disaster. Newsflash - it's not Hollywood, it's us! Social media has created a world where all that we see of each other is the perfect and happy facade we all present of what we really are. Because really, who is posting pictures of your households when it looks like World War 3 is throwing down in your living room?? No one.

From a personal standpoint, I'm quite tired of it. I'm ready to be realistic, folks.

The last year has been really hard for us. I mean....really hard.

This month will be one year since we moved into our first home, (the first one we would actually own together, anyway). And I'd like to say that's when shit hit the fan. Although, looking back, I think the 'shitstorm' that would soon be throwing down on our marriage, like hurricane katrina on the gulf, began much earlier.

However, August 13th, the day we moved in...that was the day it all came to surface. I'm going to spare all of you the intricate, dramatic details from that day. We'll keep those details between Justin and I; (well, between us and our closest friends who happened to be here on moving day, and were forced to witness the disaster, and are probably far from shaking the memories of it).

August 13th, Move-In Day: Long story short-

Me: "Justin, did you even measure that fridge?!.....LIKE I TOLD YOU TO?!"
Justin: "Amy, I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I found the fridge. It's stainless steel. It's our DREAM fridge. It looks FINE."
(The refrigerator was almost a foot too large....in each direction.) 

Imagine these two sentences... over and over... confronting different subject matter... for 12 hours straight.
It. Never. Got. Any. Better.

And so the separation, and the hardness, between him and I began.

Fast forward to the current us. A whole year later. We have been in couple's counseling since the "move-in catastrophe of 2013". Something I am FAR from ashamed of. It's disappointing to me, honestly, that so many people consider counseling or therapy the same as metaphorically waving the white flag, or worse, as an acceptance of failure. In my opinion, our decision was far from surrendering, and even further from the acceptance of defeat. Our decision to get some help came from a survival skill deep within us. Our warrior, stubborned, slow to give in selves, decided we would step up to the plate and fight.

We have spent the last year fighting for it, striving for it. Striving for happiness, striving for peacefulness, striving for a normal, conducive living arrangement. I've tried to become the version of myself that would make life easier for him. He's tried to become the version of himself that makes life easier for me. Guess what? That doesn't work.

In our last session with our counselor, aka our Sherpa, we brought to the table one of our most hideous arguments yet. During the explanation of this terrifically, embarrassingly, raw argument between my husband and I, our counselor sat looking dumbfounded at us. I had expected him to break down the fight, piece by piece, examining what I did wrong, examining what he did wrong...telling us how to communicate better, and how to avoid such arguments in the future. I expected him to tell me that I wasn't being the wife Justin needed me to be, and that Justin wasn't being the husband I needed him to be. I was wrong.

He smirked. And almost laughed.

At first I was angry. All I could think was, 'Here I am spilling out my feelings about this treacherous event. I am completely exhausted by it, completely defeated by it, and each time I relive this horribly awful fight in my head (and now out loud), I feel as if our marriage has an expiration date, that no one has filled us in on yet.

That smirk. It held strong on his face. His immediate response..."When was it that you two decided it would be easier, or better, to be on opposing teams?"

He found our argument to be funny. He said it was the kind of fight that sitcoms are made of. When he repeated it back to us, I could see where he was coming from. He felt like the argument was about 3 degrees away from being a funny story to share with the grandkids.

What was that 3 degree difference? It was how we responded to each other, post-argument. The day after our home had survived the atomic bomb of all arguments, (as I saw it anyway). We had fled the catastrophe, safely, but on separate teams. We kept to ourselves, protecting our integrity, holding strong to the fact that I was right. That I was the one who deserved an apology. I felt like I had deserved different treatment as his wife. He felt like he responded accurately as my husband. Both of our reactions, and takeaway, from the argument were in direct reference to the role we were trying to play in each others lives.

So, in my opinion, what's the hardest part of being married?..... Being Yourself.

It seems like it should be the easy part. Right? Being yourself is simple. At least it should be. But something weird happens when you fall in love. And it gets even more complicated when you decide to spend the rest of your lives falling in love.  

I became torn between being the best version of myself for me, and the best version of myself as a wife. They are not the same.

WIFE, is not my identifier. HUSBAND, is not his. I was created to be me, he was created to be him. Marriage is not about becoming something for someone else. It is about deciding that the two of you, as two separate and whole beings, want to admire each others assets, bask in each others worth, and 'do life' together, as yourselves. THAT is why marriage is so hard at times. You have to find a way to be yourself, be your own person, and be those people TOGETHER.

Sometimes, when you find yourself in the middle of a storm, you immediately become a new version of yourself. Maybe it's the adrenaline, maybe it's protection, maybe it's the fear of being your true self and it not being enough. I don't have that answer. I wish I did.

What I can tell you, from my experience as a wife, is that the storms may come. The storms may come at the worst possible time in your life, in your relationship, in your career... and it will feel like the equivalent of the world's greatest hurricanes combined coming down on you. 

In those moments, don't play a role in your own life. Be you. Let your partner be them. Appreciate and admire the things about each other that you once valued. Be on the same team. Know that you only make a great team because of what you are each bringing to the table. You both have strengths.

Understand that everyone else in the world is dealing with hurricanes, (even if you can't tell by their recent Facebook cover photo). And that you, and your relationship, will undertake many more. But hold on to your person. Hold on to yourself. Don't change, and don't allow them to change either. BE YOURSELVES, because that's what each of you really needs the most. And hold on tight.