Monday, February 6, 2017

This is Not the End

You think the pain and the ache in your heart will never end, but it does.
I promise.
I've been there more times than I care to admit. I fall in love easily, carelessly, quickly, and I put my entire heart into a relationship with someone...but when it ends, I'm devastated.
But I'm here to tell you the pain, the ache, the loneliness...will end.
One morning you'll wake up to a pink sky and that perfect 65 degree weather in early spring and you'll feel it.
You'll feel lighter.
All the songs that you used to listen to with him - your songs - you'll be able to listen to them again. You'll even sing along...loudly.
And you'll laugh.
All the places that you went, all of the places and people and things that remind you of him will be yours again. They won't remind you of him anymore, and if they do, it will be from a place of love and understanding.
You will be free.
I know it's hard; it never gets easier. No matter how many times you get your heart broken, it still hurts just as much as the last time.
But I am here to tell you that you can and will get through it.
I know; I've been there.
There are brighter and better days ahead...just keep going.

Light and Love,

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dancing through the pain

[journal entry from 8/22/14]
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am dancing through the center of it all. Dancing through it all... Nothing anyone has done has broken me. Nothing. I am laughing/crying like an insane person right now. Despite all the loss and heartbreak - my life is good. I keep laughing and dancing through it all.
I keep loving... Because I know me loving someone has never killed me. Not yet. So I keep loving... Because I like my odds of making it out alive no matter what.

I have danced through the pain so many times, I know the steps by heart...and I know I will still be dancing long after the song is through...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

More Precious than Gold

The weather's been beautiful here, so I took advantage and went for a walk along the riverfront trail this afternoon. As the sun set along the Ohio River, I watched the fading rays cast beams like glitter against the current.

When I was young, I used to sit at the bow of the boat with my cousins and friends, wind whipping our still wet hair as the sun set on Youghiogheny Lake. I'd reach my hand over the side, catching the spray of water as the boat cut through the waves. I'd point to the sunbeams on the lake and say, "Look! It's the long lost gold of the Yough!" My friends and I would giggle and stretch further, pretending we were reaching for the gold.

As the days turn warmer and the sun takes longer to set, I begin to look forward to many long days on the Yough.

I grew up on that lake; it is my home. I was in the water less than six months after I was born, so yes - I was swimming before I could even walk. When Dad and I stopped going to church, that just meant we could get on the water sooner. I used to joke and say I prayed to the lake gods. It is my religion. Something in the water washes everything away, and the crisp mountain air makes it easier to breathe.

My childhood imagination could not have been more right. The Yough is more precious than gold to me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Last Frontier

I've known my best friend Holly for 26 years. For the past 10 or so, she's been my ticket to the west. Between her and Anne, I've been to Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington several times.
Holly's husband is in the military, and they moved to Alaska about a year ago. Not being the best at saving money, it took me that long to save up enough money for a flight (and a little extra cash for playing).
After waffling on the dates for a while due to the Army's indecision on Brian's deployment, we landed on the first week of June - perfect timing, considering Brian would end up leaving just a week before I showed up.

I spent most of the day Saturday 30,000 feet in the air. Even though I landed in Alaska at 11 p.m. local time, the sun was just beginning to set. Thrilled to see Holly (and Bosco) and ready to drop my bags, Holly had other plans. We careened through town, up to the overlook at Flattop.

Although we have the propensity to talk for hours, we forced ourselves to head to bed. Holly had been diligently watching the weather forecast before my arrival, and determined Sunday to be the best day for a trip to Denali.
There's a crazy statistic out there - something like only 30 percent of people who visit Alaska ever see Denali. She's usually hiding in the clouds, or the weather isn't ideal. Thanks to Holly's attention, we got to see it all.
We woke up early and headed up to Denali National Park. We stopped along the way for picturesque views of the mountain.
Once we arrived, we caught a touristy bus into the park. In between joking, laughing and acting fools, we saw a number of animals, including: reindeer, brown bear, Dall sheep and coyote, just to name a few.
We headed to bed early again in order to be up for our next adventure: Kenai Fjords.

We awoke early to an overcast day. I couldn't get enough of the views heading down the highway toward Seward. 
 We checked in for our four-hour tour and walked around for a bit before boarding the Nunatak.
No sooner did we leave the dock than we saw a sea otter floating by.
We stopped on Fox Island for a prime rib and salmon meal before heading out again.

The entire tour, Holly kept saying, "I've never seen____ in the wild!" Every single time she would say that, we would see the animal in question. Dall porpoise following the ship, seals, sea lions, a number of sea birds, and of course, puffins. After joking that she should say "orca," minutes later someone shouted the word.
Despite my terrible camera and standing on my tip-toes to see over people, we finally found them - a pod of orcas.
We also saw a grey whale (no photos, sorry) on our way back to the docks.

After our trip, we stopped by Exit Glacier. It was my first time seeing a glacier up close, and it only made me even more excited to climb on and touch one.

The rain kept us local Tuesday, exploring the Alaska Native Heritage Center and learning about the Alaskan games (which we attempted, to no avail - although the skills would come in handy later in the week).
Not ones to stop for very long, we took an afternoon cat nap, then decided to take a trip to Thunderbird Falls.
I had the privilege of being present for Bucket's first hike.

Wednesday came with a steady rain, but being the wild souls we are, it did not keep us inside.
With hopes for ice caves, we trekked up to Byron Glacier. Unfortunately, all the rain and warm temperatures melted the ice caves, but I got the opportunity to climb around and get a few good photos of the glacier.

We had a great lunch in Girdwood, and I marvelled at the ski slopes outside that stretched to the tops of the mountains, far into the clouds.
We hopped in the car and hit the Winner Creek Trail to check out the hand tram. My fear of heights did not prevent me from pulling the tram out into the middle of the gorge for some photos.
Then Holly and Bosco took their turn before we headed back out.

Thursday was a wonderfully chill day spent playing with puppies, drinking great beer and sticking to tradition.
On our way up to Talkeetna, we stopped at the Iditarod trail headquarters. Unbeknownst to me, Holly paid for a short trip with the sled dogs around a dirt track, and we got to hold a few of the new puppies.

We stopped at Denali Brewing Company, which is worth a mention because they had this wonderful dark beer that tasted like chocolate and smoke and love. Unfortunately, they only sold growlers and did not ship out of state. Regardless, I wouldn't have been able to sneak a growler in my carry-on.
Talkeetna reminded me of Ohiopyle - hippies and dogs abound, tourists and locals and small shops along a main street.
We hit the ranger station, where there were quite a few people preparing to hike Denali. Per tradition, we completed our junior ranger course (sadly, without Anne) and became Denali National Park and Preserve Junior Mountaineering Rangers.
Another beautiful badge I added to my CamelBak.

Friday brought one of the experiences I'd bragged about for weeks leading up to my trip - traversing a glacier. I told everyone back home that I was going to kiss one, and I made good on my word. Holly drove us up to Matanuska Glacier, feeding me my first jet boil meal (spaghetti-os!) and patiently waiting as I took a million photos of a big hunk of ice.

On the way home, we stopped up Hatcher Pass. Compared to the 63 degrees in the valley, it was snowing up in the pass, so we did what anyone else would do with snow in June....
Saturday was bittersweet getting ready to head back to the continental U.S. I packed all of my clothes (thanks for letting me do laundry all week, Holly! Even though I wore the same outfit every day haha), and we headed downtown one last time to grab reindeer hot dogs.

 I mailed my items home in a flat rate box (what a godsend), which included an ulu with puffins engraved on the handle, homemade soap and all of the pamphlets and maps I'd collected from our various travels.
I teared up as I watched Holly and Bosco pull away and mentally prepared myself for the long trip home.
The long trip home included a two-hour delay on the tarmac in Anchorage, which subsequently meant I missed my connecting flight in Seattle.
Despite my prayers, I did not get a hotel room in Seattle, but was placed on a connecting flight to Detroit en route to Pittsburgh. It was a long day, but I had time when I got home Sunday to unpack and relax a little before heading back to work the next day.
It was an incredible journey, and not one I will soon forget. It only took me so long to type this post because it was so much more satisfying to tell everyone about my trip in person. :-)
The most important part of this trip - as with all of my trips I've taken out west - was sharing all of these amazing experiences with my best friend. Here's to 26 more years of friendship, laughter, adventure and picking up right where we left off. I love you, and I can't wait until I can afford to come visit again. Thank you so much for your hospitality, time and love.
If you want to hear more details about my trip (like the food at the Fat Ptarmigan downtown), just ask!

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Next Adventure

I finally saved enough money and found a flight within my price range.
It's official - I'm heading to Anchorage to visit my best friend Holly at the end of May.

Let the countdown begin.

In no order, here is the list of things we plan on doing together:

+Matanuska Glacier
+Seward, AK
+Exit Glacier
+Winner Creek Trail
+Flat Top
+Iditarod Trail headquarters
+Mt. Baldy
+Mt. Healy
+Driving as far into Denali National Park as the b@st@rds will let us
+Sleeping in my car (I've got us covered for everything we need... be prepared to snuggle with myself or Bosco... possibly both)
+Eating reindeer hotdogs
+Chocolate covered strawberries
+Byron & Portage Glaciers
+Finding snow for a snowball fight and/or building a snowman
+Hatcher Pass
+Worlds largest chocolate waterfall
+Hazing Bucket
+Thunderbird Falls
+Mt McKinley (she's shy tho & might not show herself)

She also said, "Be prepared to consume mass amounts of Red Bull (we finally got the yellow one!), Gushers, & foods cooked out of a Jet Boil. You can sleep on your flight home... or when we're driving. Unless you're the one driving the car at that time, then I will ask that you stay awake. Anything else you'd like to see added to the list? We could go to the North Pole & Cheena Hot Springs (not as cool as the hot springs in Idaho) if you'd like to explore the Fairbanks area as well."

Most importantly, I love and miss her and cannot wait to see her and the fur babies!
Life is good.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Challenge Accepted

My friend Kristen recently got me hooked on Scandal.
Between the hours of binge watching on Netflix, I realized something - I have time to get ready in the morning. I've been hitting the gym after work, so there's no excuse when I can get ready in the comfort of my home.
I challenged myself to do my hair and makeup every day. I also purchased a gorgeous pair of $109 Calvin Klein heels for $20, so my third objective was to wear those at work every day.

I came to a few interesting conclusions:

1) It's fast/easy
There's a cliche that it takes women hours to get ready. My entire life has consisted of showering in five minutes, throwing my hair into a ponytail and heading out the door. I woke up at 6 a.m. Monday anticipating this delay. Thirty minutes later I'm sitting on my couch eating breakfast and watching the news. I was out with friends last night until 1 a.m., woke up at 7 a.m. and still managed my entire routine.
What helps is keeping it simple.
Foundation (BB Cream). Light dusting of powder. Blush/bronzer. Eyeliner. Mascara. Eyebrows. Lipstick. Curl or straighten my hair (I shower at night).
It also helps to have very fine, thin hair. I section it into threes by layers and work my way from the bottom to the top. The funny thing is, it takes me almost the same amount of time to curl my hair as it does to straighten (even though it's naturally straight).
2) People notice
My curled hair and make-up on Monday and Tuesday elicited more compliments than I can remember. It's Friday - now everyone in the office is accustomed to it. Still, people do notice when you take the time to get ready.
I think the most important attributes I focus on are my eyebrows and lips. Two features I never would have given a thought to last year are suddenly the most important ones. They frame your face. Without those two elements, I basically look the same as I always do. I feel like people take you seriously with a strong brow, and lipstick to me has always been this symbol of maturity and femininity.
3) You start to believe the hype
By day three, I was feelin' myself. Strutting Walking around the office in five-inch, $109 heels has that effect. I carried myself better - shoulders back, chin up. I smiled and walked with authority.
We used to say in college softball, "Look good, play good." Terrible grammar, yes, but the feeling is the same. I looked like a boss, so I started acting like a boss. I never knew such little effort could go such a long way.
4) Tools of the trade are key
I wouldn't have made it this week without a few trusty tools. Batiste makes a dry shampoo with a color tint so there's no white residue on your hair. I found some at Marshall's and it's been my go-to ever since (especially since I have fine, oily hair). I'm letting my bangs grow out, but I'm in no short supply of bobby pins. Or headbands...although I could stand to buy a few cute ones (currently only own plain brown and black).
I have a set of Eco Tools brushes I bought a few years ago that are impeccable. Just be sure to wash and and take care of them, and they'll last forever. I definitely needed hairspray on the days I curled my hair.
My curling and flat iron are both from Walmart, and my hair dryer is from Dollar General (and all of them are literally at least six years old). Really, you don't need to spend a ton of money. I have a few big ticket items (my Tart eye palette, which contains the powder for my brows and eight beautiful colors), but for the most part a lot of my makeup is from Target, purchased with a gift card or given to me by friends (it's sanitary, trust me - you can clean it by using alcohol like they do at Sephora).
At the end of the day, the best thing you can buy is good make-up remover. I buy the Target brand makeup remover cloths and the Equate oil-free eye makeup remover for my waterproof mascara.
Nothing feels better at the end of the day than kicking off your heels and wiping the makeup off your face. Well, nothing except throwing on a pair of sweatpants. That's definitely #1.

Everyone knows I'm a huge feminist, so before anyone tears into me about buying into images portrayed in magazines or how the patriarchy is keeping me down, know this - I did this for me. I do my hair and makeup because it's fun and it makes me happy. How else am I going to fight the patriarchy if I'm not wearing my war paint and striding into battle in my five-inch heels?

Overall, I consider this week a success. It's easy, it's fun and it's no more time consuming than trying to get my ponytail just right.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

54 Days

I cannot continue to dwell in the darkness of my own mind.
It will be spring soon enough, and I'll return to nature and to where I belong:
To myself.