the year of the fearless

Seeking some familiar faces and simple entrance into the New Year, I spent the 2013-2014 transition in Harrisonburg for a reunion with college friends, Buffalo Wild Wings, and gin with soda water and rose simple syrup. The night was lively, filled with high-heeled stumbles, jello shot genitalia, bottle rockets (a terrible idea), and plastic cup table games. We survived. And more importantly,  enjoyed ourselves.

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So. Hi, 2014.

I've never been good at New Years Resolutions.

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I often make vague ones, and ones that I tend not to really ever end up doing. (Last year, however, my resolution was to drink more wine, which I definitely did.)  I understand the appeal, of course. New Years is a great landmark to assess your life, and decide what changes you want to make.  It makes you feel so much better about indulging in those shots of fireball and late night pizza, because, heck, you will never do that in the next year. The hard part is forcing that change. You're essentially turning on a green light and yelling GO NOW DIFFERENT and then expect a change to occur.  From my experience, there are two types of change in the world. Forced change and decided change. The forced change come from habitat, or things beyond our control. It comes from when you stand outside a bluestoned dorm room, waving as your parents drive back to their house without you in it for the first time. The first time the wrong person says "I love you." When you're working your first job within your field of study and harshly realize "I hate this." When you go to call someone, and realize you no longer can. That's when we change, because we have to. 

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And then there's the type of change that requires a decision. Change from within. I WILL go to Cycling, even if it kills me. I WILL stop making out with thirty year old men when I'm drunk and in a foreign country. I WILL call my parents.  I WILL get over ______. 

I am not good at either.

Perhaps it's because I'm a Libra.  

Luckily for me, sometimes change is unneccesary. Because like some deep intuition, that thing that we crave already exists within us. It's stays, even when untouched, balanced within us like a mustard seed. An ever-present plant that without the proper care and attention, remains deep in the soil.  There's no need to "change," only to observe, listen, and let the damn thing grow. 

A few nights ago, I enjoyed the company of my good friend Stacey, the Pajama Men, and a snowy DC evening. We ate spicy salads. The food was good, but not nearly as delicious as the conversation between Stacey and myself. Stacey had recently returned from a trip to Israel. Over our greens, we traded stories from our adventures across the pond; hers consisting of camel rides and nearly getting married off, and mine of ginjinha and bike rides along the Portuguese coast.

"So," Stacey asked me at one point. "Tell me your favorite thing, your least favorite thing, and the thing that you learned about yourself." 

Favorite thing: everything. Least favorite thing: leaving. Thing I learned about myself: Uhhhhhh.  

It took me a sec. I hadn't really thought about it before that moment. But upon consideration, I found I learned I have a seed of utter fearlessness.  It was always sitting there, like a box of Samoas in my freezer I totally forgot I had.  

In foreign countries (and even the foreign United State), there is no embarrassment. There is no failure. There's NO (!!!) regret! You're surrounded by people you will most likely never see again, in a place that you may never return to. You are only expected to live, learn, and enjoy.  It's a sense of freedom that explains the wanderlust in all of the adventurers of the world.  

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So for this New Year, I want to remember that a little nugget of bravery exists. I don't want to change; I want to remember: fear can be conquered. Fear is weak. Fear should never be a roadblock in our own little Route 66. 

It's much more fun this way anyway. 

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All of the things there was to love about 2013

Happy last day of 2013! I hope all of you had a fun, inspiring, and growth-inducing year.  May you celebrate tonight with champagne toasts and spiced nuts and a glittery outfit, or whatever pleases you to start your 2014 year. Mine will include a reunion with college buddies in our old stomp ground and some illegal fireworks. I have learned from my last New Year's Eve that even if the cider looks non-alcoholic, it almost definitely has some sort of proof. I learned that sometimes when you are pursuing a New Year's kiss from an attractive gentlemen, he might think you are pursuing something that you are definitely too drunk to be doing. And I learned that bagels and coconut water can fix just about anything. Knowing this, I am prepared to enter the 2014 threshold fearlessly, and several B12 vitamins. 

I liked 2013. It was very scary and never boring. I stayed up very late. I listened to stories. I let myself fall down, a lot. It felt good.  A wise woman named Rachel Gitel told me this year, "I gotta crash and burn in order to learn." 

My favorite things included: 

1. College improv troupes and weekend trips to comedy conferences. 

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I said goodbye to my own troupe after working with them for four years. I've never been surrounded by so many people I simultaneously wanted to snuggle and murder. We may have fought desperately with one another for attention and for control over the youtube channel, but then there were always the nights of Futurama, crying on kitchen floors, and falling asleep to Bob Ross.

2.  Lorde

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This woman is clearly a badass.  And anyone who hasn't had a slow-motion pillow fight to "Royals" yet is severely missing out.

3. James Madison University 

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Maybe it was because it was my last year of college, but my school spirit absolutely soared. I loved staying up late and sneaking into the tunnels. I loved eating five pieces of pizza at d-hall. I loved jumping into the Burruss Fountain  in the middle of the night and then forcing a couple to take a photograph.   I really just love JMU, and am very proud to call it my alma mater. 

4. hellogiggles.com

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This website has so many fantastic articles written for women, by women. It celebrates quirkiness, passion for life, and opinions. I spent so much time reading the articles this year, and it provided the inspiration I needed to start using the internet for creatives motives. Hellooooooo, adorable!

5. Crappy beach houses/motels

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I went to the beach twice this summer. Once at the beginning as a post graduation treat with the fellas above. Our beach house was called "the pong house" and consisted of ten bunk beds, a terrifying shower, and two beer pong tables (hence the name.)  It was relaxing, and the eleven of us attending all created "beach week" bonds that will stretch far beyond that summer.

The second time I stayed at the Safari Motel in Ocean City, MD with a large group from the PA Renn Faire. Despite the chilliness of the beach during this time of year, we drank tequila on the balcony and watched the sunrise from lifeguard chairs. You don't need to be ritzy in order to have the time of your life.

6. The Kindle Paperwhite

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A true "When Harry Met Sally" relationship. When the Kindle first came out, I despised it. I like books. I like the weightiness, the glue-y smell of the pages, and the expedition of actually going to a bookstore.  But at 23 years old, I have over six boxes stuffed with paperbacks and hardbounds alike, and it may be time to look for something that travels a little better.  I got the Kindle for Christmas just a few days ago, and I have fallen in love. We are inseparable. I love that I can  look up a word at a moments notice, I love that I can buy a book whenever I want, and I swear it even smells a little like Elmer's.  

7. Jennifer Lawrence

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I think she be may one of those things, like Will and Grace or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, that is literally impossible to hate. 

8. Same Love

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Not just the song, but the actual idea.  Five states voted for or repealed former anti-marriage laws this year. I'm aware that there is still a l-o-n-g way to go, but improvement can (and should) be celebrated. 

9. RVs and living in cars

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I spent a lot of time this year in mobile homes, specifically during my time at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Some of the most fascinating people I've ever met travel in these cozy little homes, bringing with them intoxicating stories and unique talents. I learned henna from a beautiful gypsy and drank Ketel One from a mason jar. I made friends with a very tall man (whether with or without his stilts) who made fluffy homemade bread. We ate in the coziest of kitchens.  I asked my parents (half-kidding) for a teardrop trailer for Christmas, and while they entertained the idea for a bit, I think they're a little wary of the intensity of my wanderlust. Despite that, RVs, I am not done with you just yet. 

10. Kate Rozycki, Hannah Storch, and Brett Nicol

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Car trips to Myrtle Beach, Baltimore, and New York City and tears and beers and cuddles. I could not have survived this fall season without these three. 

11. International travel, and thrifty finds.

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Living social, you got me a $700 trip to Portugal. Airbnb, you got me an adorable flat in Porto for only 22 euro a night. I freaking love you both. Thank you so much for allowing a poor post-grad like me to still have international experiences.

12. Women Who Run With the Wolves

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This. Book. I've purchased ten copies for friends thus far.  Kate first introduced it to me when she was reading it during our time at the Renaissance Faire. It's a lovely examination of the natural instincts and intuition of women, comparing them to qualities similarly found within the wolf species. This book will make you want to run with scarves in your fists. It's necessary for women to read, and highly suggested for any man who wants to run with women who run with the wolves.  Read and run.  

12. The Pretty Hurts Music Video

 

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Because changing the way we look at the "beautiful" stereotype is the true definition of beautiful.