I Wanna Get Better Wednesday, Dec 3 2014 

Two nights before I turned twenty-four I curled up on my bed, put on my dream glasses, and wrote a bucket list. For many years it was posted on this blog and I even managed to cross a few items off of it. When I took everything down to reinvent this blog, and start fresh, I knew that revamping the bucket list was also inevitably going to happen.

In twelve days I will turn twenty-eight, and recently my bucket list has been on my mind. I’m tired of saying I want to do things and then pushing them off. I can’t guarantee that having them written down again will somehow magically make me less of a procrastinator, but I do know how much I love crossing things off a to-do list. I also know that I want a different kind of list than the last one. It fit who I was at twenty-four, but not who I am now. We change as we grow, and I want a list that represents the person I am today.

The girl I was at twenty-four wanted romance, adventure, and to find a way to be happy with herself; and her list reflected that. It was a good list for me at that age, and I respect the items I had on it; but it can be better. I still want adventure and most of my list will include places I want to visit, as well as a few challenges for myself thrown in. It will not however include romance. Maybe because my heart is still a little bruised, but also because I don’t think you find love by putting it a list. I think sometimes it happens in life, and sometimes it doesn’t, and I want to live a beautiful life that makes me smile, whether or not I have somebody by my side.

So here it is, not written in stone, and always open to my own editing, but I think I made a good point almost four years ago:  I’m not getting any younger, and I can’t expect to whittle away at a list that I haven’t written…

Making Ordinary Moonlight’s Life Extraordinary

* Follow up my 5k by running a 10k and a half marathon

* Write and publish a novel (even if I have to do it myself)

* Take a solo road trip every year

* Live in a foreign country

* Save an animal from the shelter

*  Mush a dog sled

* Sleep in a castle

* Drive Route 66

* Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and ride in one of the hot air balloons

* Visit the following places: Scotland, Ireland, Greece, Venice, Spain, London, Washington D.C, New York

* Travel through all fifty states

*Learn to speak another language fluently

* Adventure through my gorgeous state of Montana taking photos – specifically beautiful old barns

*Take a photography course

*Throw a dart at the map and travel to wherever it lands

*Take a cooking class in Italy

*Send a message in a bottle

*Build a tree house

*Take a picture every day for an entire year

*Learn to play guitar

*Visit a volcano

*See the Northern Lights

*Stand on top of a mountain

*Attend Mardi Gras

*Race a sports car on a real race track

*Send in a postcard to the Postsecret project

*Hike most of the Glacier National Park trails

*Stay the night in a haunted hotel

*Go rock-climbing

*Drive down the California coast without a care in the world in a car with a convertible top

*Visit Niagara Falls

*Go on a roller coaster road trip – hitting the biggest, fastest, scariest, and everything in-between

*Change a life

*Dance under the stars to ‘Moon River’

*Plan an epic road-trip with friends

*Learn how to surf

*Stand in Times Square as the New Year’s Eve ball drops

*Get a tattoo

*Go to the airport and take the first plane out of town

*Visit the Smithsonian

*Buy myself something gorgeous from Tiffany & Co.

*Learn how to ballroom dance

*Take a horseback ride along the beach

*Go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & The Rose Bowl Parade

*Go skinny-dipping

*Ride an elephant

*Learn how to make macaroons

*Plant a garden

*Dance in the rain

*See a play on Broadway

*Eat a Voodoo doughnut in Portland, OR

*Return to Europe with my best friend to celebrate a significant birthday

*Take my Mom on the vacation of her dreams

*Learn to knit

*Go scuba-diving

*Open my very own bakery

It’s not complete, and probably never will be. For every item I manage to cross off I am sure I will manage to add two more in its place. That’s the beauty of my bucket list – it’s a place to compile all the big and small dreams I hope to achieve before I kick the bucket. I don’t care if they are cheesy and sometimes ridiculous – they are things I want to do.

Because in the end, all I really want is to build a beautiful life full of endless adventure and incredible memories.

I think this is a good place to start…

Thankful Wednesday, Nov 26 2014 

Growing up my family always had the tradition of sharing what we are thankful for before we were allowed to devour our delicious Thanksgiving feast. I think it’s a fairly common practice, but it always stressed me out. Going first you have the home field advantage, you can say pretty much anything and everyone will nod along in agreement. Get selected last and you spend all that time mentally cursing out everyone else for stealing your brilliant speech while still trying to come up with something amazing and original.

This year I wanted to express the things I was thankful for with more than just my family – plus, then I’ll have a whole handful of well thought out ideas for tomorrow afternoon when it’s my turn at the dinner table. Thanksgiving may be the somewhat forgotten holiday between the Halloween shenanigans and Christmas cheer, but taking the time to be thankful for the wonderful things in our life should be the most important thing tomorrow.

Sorry in advance for any corny mushiness – I’m about to get very appreciative of my life:

-I am thankful everyday that I get to start my day with a hot shower and a cup of coffee – I do believe it keeps me from murdering people on a daily basis.

-I am thankful for all the acquaintances that have turned into life-long friends.

-I am thankful to have a job that makes me enjoy getting up and going to work. To finally be working for a company that values their employees and is willing to invest in them. Not to mention working with a group of ladies that understand we can accomplish so much more when we work together as a team.

-I am thankful for my three vices when I am stressing out over something completely ridiculous: long drives with the music blasting, baking, and photography.

-I am thankful for my incredible family – my Dad randomly texts me to tell me he loves me, and my sisters and I consider our Mom a friend as well as a parent. I am blessed to have a family that lives nearby and loves spending time with each other.

-I am thankful for texts, phone calls, and any type of communication that makes it possible for me to keep in touch with the friends who no longer live close enough to visit on a regular basis. It’s not the same as being able to see them, but it helps.

-I am thankful for the amazing Instagram community that has introduced me to some fabulous people and also allowed me to share my work through my own page, and through the sharing of some larger accounts.

-I am thankful for the adventures I have gotten to take this year and the places I have been lucky enough to explore.

-I am thankful for my health, and a body that is strong enough to take on the challenges I have given it this year.

-I am thankful for my best friend – the Christina to my Meredith – AKA my rock. She has been there for all the major events and has known me the longest. I wish there were fewer miles between us, and more visits – but I am grateful for every minute we do manage to have together.

-I am thankful for the beautiful state I call home, and the gorgeous views I get to see on a daily basis.

-I am thankful for the roof over my head and the food on my table.

-I am thankful for my partner-in-crime, who has helped me through the struggles I have faced this year. She has been there first hand for the laughter and the tears. Always willing to listen to me try and sort it out with a glass of wine and some sage advice. I can count on her for the last minute adventures and the inevitable shenanigans that will occur.

-I am thankful for the people who are no longer a part of my story. At one point they provided some lovely memories, and while those can be tough to remember, I am thankful that I had those moments with them. People wander in and out of our lives, and when they do it’s important to remember what their leaving taught you, while still embracing the happy memories they gave you.

-I am thankful for the extra ten months we were granted with our family dog Scooter. We thought we were going to lose him last January, but he put up a good fight until earlier this month. It still never seems like enough time, but I am thankful for every extra day he had with us.

-I am thankful for all the nights that have ended with a stomach that hurts from laughing too much.

-I am thankful for the time I got to spend with my Grandpa this May while road-tripping. I don’t get to see him enough and spending a few days with him was one of the top highlights from that vacation.

-I am thankful for all of you and your support.

Honestly, I could probably stay up all night and never think of everything that should be added to this list. You never really think about how much you have to be thankful for until you truly examine your life and realize how lucky you are to live the life you lead.

Remember to be thankful for all of it tomorrow, and try your hardest to appreciate it all everyday.

Wishing you all a safe Thanksgiving full of delicious feasts and happiness!

Roll Me Away Friday, Sep 26 2014 

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It was an early Saturday morning, on what had amounted to just a few hours of sleep, and an iced mocha was glued to my hand. The roads were clear, the sun was shining, and Cher’s ‘Just Like Jesse James’ was blasting from my stereo. In that moment I felt more free and happy than I had in years.

That was the day I started my solo seventeen day road trip journey.

The day I started to pick up all the broken pieces and put myself back together.

I don’t think even I realized how stressed and unhappy I was when I started that journey. I had spent months feeling beaten, personally and professionally. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and I couldn’t see an end in sight.

Until I placed myself behind the wheel, cranked the tunes, and let myself get lost in the journey.

I realize that it sounds bleak, like I was teetering on the edge, about ready to crash. Maybe I was. At that point I was still working in a job that was slowly crushing my soul. I spent day after day pouring every ounce of myself into that company, and it was never good enough. There was never a day when I was thanked, just meeting after meeting where my nose was rubbed into every single mistake I made, no matter how small or insignificant.

That doesn’t even touch the giant emotional baggage I had been storing away for months. Pushing it all into little corners of my mind, refusing to deal with how hurt, betrayed, and angry I was feeling.

That beautiful day in May was the beginning of something amazing though.

My solo road trip would take me from my home base in Montana to Oregon for a few days with my old roommate. Following that I would stay a few days in Las Vegas before heading to California to visit my Grandpa and then on to see the best friend in San Diego. My journey home would take me back to Vegas, a night’s stay in Utah, and then finishing my trip with my family in Bozeman for a corvette show.

I was thrilled with my plans, and spent months counting down the days until I could make it happen. I found that people fell into one of two groups when they heard my plans. The first group was flabbergasted with my plans. They couldn’t understand why I would essentially want to spend seventeen days traveling by myself. What if I got hurt? What about all the crazy people in this world? How would I be safe by myself? The second group was envious. They understood why this sounded like the ultimate dream vacation to me.

I don’t know that I could explain the allure to somebody who thinks this kind of trip sounds awful. I think a large part of it has to do with my lifestyle. I crave independence and moments alone to do my heavy thinking. When I am upset I drive. Aimlessly throughout the valley, with nothing but the blaring stereo for company, and it soothes me. I have spent 99% of my adult life by myself. I make all of the important decisions for my life, and while I have a sounding board that helps, I wake up every morning and go to bed every night by myself.

At the end of the day, I have learned that the only person I can count on 100% of the time is me.

Why wouldn’t my ultimate road trip vacation include that?

A trip where I was making all the decisions, every step of the way. I decided what time to get up and start my days, what I would eat, and what detours were worth my time and energy. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have not done half the things I did on that trip if I had been with somebody else. On my way home I took what ended up being a seven hour detour to see the Grand Canyon.

Just because I could.

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I’m not saying solo road trips are for everyone, but for me, it was the one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. I loved getting to visit my family and friends and making them apart of this incredible, epic journey. I was invigorated by the long hours of driving and the amazingly beautiful things I got to experience and see along the way. My camera was thoroughly exhausted by the time I got home. Most of all though, I was thankful for the thinking time, and the issues that I forced myself to mentally work through on those well traveled roads.

I forced myself to appreciate my better qualities, to recognize that while I have as many faults as the next person; I will never stop being a loyal friend to the people I love. I realized that the palm reader I met a few years ago is correct, I cannot change people, I can only change my expectations, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have come to accept that I am the type of person who forgives instead of holding grudges – no matter how awful or painful the circumstances were.

Most of all though, I realized that at the end of the day I may only have myself, but that woman is pretty damn incredible. She is strong, brave, witty, smart,willing to take risks, and cares with every fiber of her being for the people in her life, no matter what mistakes they have made

What can I say, I found myself on the beaten roads somewhere between here and California.

I wonder what I’ll find next year*…

*Definitely making that a yearly tradition. Probably for a shorter journey, but a solo road trip journey all the same.
**Photo Credit: Yours truly – Middle of nowhere Arizona and North Rim Grand Canyon National Park

At The Beginning Monday, Sep 22 2014 

A few years ago this was my favorite place to share my thoughts, my fears, and all of the things that made me smile in a week. Slowly, as time progressed though, it became harder to make myself sit down and share those pieces of myself post after post. When I go back and read them now, I feel like I’m reading passages written by a stranger.

I can’t quite pinpoint exactly when it became too hard to continue, but I know, without a doubt, the events that contributed to my block. For as long as I can remember writing has been therapeutic. It isn’t quite the therapy that jumping in the car and hitting the open road with the tunes blasting has always been for me, but it’s definitely a close second. In the last few years so many personal triumphs and stumbles have occurred, and it was those stumbles that made my love of writing fade.

Suddenly every time I sat in front of a blank document I found myself wanting to scream my frustrations onto the clean white spaces. Deep down though, I knew that it wouldn’t help. If I couldn’t voice my frustrations to the people causing them, writing them down and sharing them with the interwebs wouldn’t solve anything. I read once that you should let your past make you better, not bitter – and for the past year I have been doing my best to live by those words.

In the past few months I have found myself itching to get back into writing, and more specifically, bringing this blog back into my life. I want to be reminded again by things that make me happy, or things that have impacted me. I can’t remember all the stories of my early twenties, but when I scroll through old ‘Things I Love Thursday’ posts I am reminded of hundreds of fabulous moments.

I have since unpublished all of my original posts, mostly because I wanted to start fresh, but that’s not to say I won’t bring them back once in awhile for a little throwback. There are a lot of pieces of which I am very proud, and I would love the opportunity to showcase them again one day. For now though, they are my invisible inspiration. A reminder that I need to take the time to indulge in these pieces of written medicine that make me feel whole again.

Just so you are aware of who I am now, I should warn you, I’ve seen a lot of change in my life in the last year.

 I recently left the job I had held for seven years to take on an opportunity I hope will advance my career. It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make thus far. Having started there the month before I turned twenty-one, I wasn’t just saying goodbye to a job, I was saying goodbye to the place where I grew up.

Even more recently I decided to take up training for a 5k race – which was quite a challenge when you realize I may hate running more than any other person in the world. Every time I lace up my neon pink tennis shoes I attempt to give myself a pep talk, and then find myself blown away when I manage to make it through those runs without dying, Seriously. It’s a freaking miracle.

Perhaps the biggest impact of the last year however, is also the one that holds the biggest emotional punch. That defining obstacle that I struggle to put behind me every single day. The one thing I will do my best to not dwell on here, but would be ridiculous to pretend like it hasn’t changed me. I took a risk, silenced super brain, and I let my heart make the decisions. I fell hard. Perhaps harder than I would even care to admit, and I ended up crushed. I revealed more pieces of myself than I had ever done before, and unfortunately, in the end, I just wasn’t what he wanted. To this day, the loss of the friendship we shared saddens me. Almost as much as the realization, that in all likelihood, he meant more to me than I did to him. It’s a tale as old as time though, and in no way original or remarkable

It’s part of the story though, and I hope that with each passing day I find new adventures and new stories to post on this blog. There is nothing I love more than sitting down in front of my computer, tunes blasting from my phone, trying to create a written masterpiece of all my quirky thoughts. I can’t promise a clear vision of what to expect here, except that you will most likely get me, in all my crazy uniqueness.

Damn.

I really had forgotten how much I love this…

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