Everything I Wanted

Note: Someone apparently found my blog with the search terms “cumberpatch oscars” this week. Huh. There’s that.

This is the year that many of my friends and I will mark our tenth year out of high school. I’ve heard some laments of, “Oh, I’m so old now! Where did the time go?” yet I can’t help but marvel at all that’s happened in the past decade.

I moved to the rainy side of the mountains, after enrolling in college. I met great people. I decided to take my major in a completely different direction. I had some adventures. Maybe I even fell in love. I learned to appreciate beer and 80s dancing. I was head cheerleader. I laughed, I cried, I deleted many photos off Facebook because I graduated from college and entered the “real world.” (Not that college wasn’t real–it was transformative, in fact.)

I lived on my own. I experienced depression. I stood crying on the side of the road on Christmas morning when I realized I was snowed in, but I used my distress to my advantage and still made to Wenatchee for Christmas. I decided to take my life in another career direction. My friends got married. I got dumped. I applied to grad school (and was accepted to six out of seven programs). I met someone new. I left the country. I saw places I’d never seen before. I rediscovered my love of airplanes. I learned how to take a subway and navigate countries where I didn’t know the language all that well. I came home. More friends got married. I was deceived and left alone again.

I moved to another state, which wasn’t quite as drastic as another country. I met new people. I learned new things. I worked. I chose partners who weren’t ready for someone like me, but we still had some good times. I lost my father, but I knew he would have told me to continue doing great things. I traveled to the opposite coast for a conference. I finished year one of graduate school. I traveled to another country, this time one with sun and blue seas. I came home and lived in my hometown for the remainder of summer. Friends kept getting married. My mom met someone new. Classmates had children.

I started looking for jobs. I created a portfolio of work. I immersed myself in internships and papers. I quit going to the gym. I spent too much time at Happy Hour, but “too much time” can’t be measured against the company I kept and the stories we shared (and the broken glasses and scolding words the waitress gave my friends). I defended my portfolio. I went to more conferences. I got my first higher education job. I moved to a city I admired. I met more people. I began to work with students in a full-time professional capacity. I received my Master’s degree.

I decided I was too fat, so I joined a CrossFit gym. I didn’t cry, but I couldn’t walk for several days. I traveled to different states. I tried online dating. I had a nice, straight-forward relationship. I realized we weren’t a good match. I broke up with him. I devoted more time to the gym. I visited my friends up north on weekends. I learned new skills. I traveled to more states. I had my first workshop accepted at a national conference. I came in second or third or maybe fourth in a dating race, and that was enough for me to swear off dating for several months.

I needed more time in Seattle, so I started looking for jobs up north. I deliberately spent the summer single. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I found a new job. I left people I loved who I would visit on weekends as much as possible. I moved. I met even more people. I joined a new gym. I presented at that national conference. My friends and family members got married or had kids or got new jobs or bought new houses.

As for me, I’m not sure what happens next. I’m being forced to move into a new house, and the competition is fierce. I might be living on a couch for a bit. I might be looking at PhD programs, but not for a few years. I might be fighting Sallie Mae over my student loans, which aren’t even really that bad, but they’re enough that sometimes I feel ashamed, even though the work that I put in to both my degrees was priceless (and I do fully believe that). I want to travel to many more countries. I want to write more, and cook more, and spend more time in the gym. I want to meet even more people.

I finally let go of the loneliness that had plagued me since junior high and high school. I don’t feel the urgency in finding someone. I don’t graffiti my blog with sadness over being on my own anymore. I feel it sometimes, on cold nights especially, but it is not painful nor crippling; it is just my current state of being.

Somewhere in the last ten years, I became my own person, and I became enough for me. Everything I thought I needed was just something I was too afraid to do myself. The traveler. The writer. The fitness junkie. The cook. The person who appreciates great food and drinks. The funny one. Even the one with great hair and the one with a good smile. The smart one.

These weren’t partners I was searching for. It was me I was searching for the whole time; I had it wrong. Even though I don’t have the house or the husband or the shiny new car or the kids (or even the pets) that suit so many other people so very well–and even though my current situation is a little bit more turbulent than expected–I can tell you one thing about the last decade:

I learned how to be happy being me.

Family Knows No Limits

We had a saying when I was in the Western Washington University Filipino-American Student Association: Isang pamilya. Isang dugo.

One family. One blood.

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines several weeks ago, it wasn’t just an event that showed up in the news headlines in my online feeds. Anytime anything shows up about the Philippines, I know that I, my mom, and many of my friends hope and pray that all our family are okay. And whenever anything heartbreaking happens back in the Philippines, I also know that the Filpino community comes together to help and to support and to show tremendous outpouring of love. That’s who we are.

It seems strange to then suddenly bring up the CrossFit community. It’s a community of voluntary participation; none of us were born into this. But that doesn’t mean people don’t bring their own intersecting identities to the table. And with that comes the intersection of communities.

In times of disaster, there are numerous fundraising and aid efforts, and one event aiming to help the Philippines came to light via one of the coaches (who happens to be Filipino) at my gym. King CrossFit in Renton, WA has a prominent Filipino membership and presence, and Coach Ryan organized a Workout Of the Day (WOD) dedicated to the relief efforts in the Philippines. Members were invited throughout the region to participate in a WOD that symbolized* the typhoon in its repetition scheme and the length of workout. Beyond that, other CrossFit affiliates were invited to hold their own sister events. Gyms throughout the country stepped up. There are even affiliates in other countries who held fundraising WODs.

My teammates and I went down early to Renton on Saturday morning. King was busy, packed with athletes from all over. As I warmed up on the rowing machine, the unmistakable smell of lumpia wafted in with each pull. (Talk about motivation. If I had lumpia waiting for me after every WOD, I’d be in the gym multiple times a day.) We all chipped in donations at the door to participate, and of course, many donated again when the lumpia (and doughnuts and coffee) came out. And of course, we did the WOD. Early morning box jumps aren’t my favorite, but knowing I was supporting one of my communities by way of another one of my communities was much more important.

Luckily for me, my family in the Philippines reported that everyone was safe and accounted for. I know that’s not the case for everyone. On the surface, I’m sure there are some cynics who only see that I got up early on one day and had fun with fellow CrossFitters and ate some lumpia; how is that making a difference in the wake of a disaster? Because it was more than just a regular day at the gym. It was a day with a deeper purpose, with a deeper reflective aspect to it.

Besides, when one gym reports that solely the at-the-door donations came in at $2500–not accounting for sales of shirts or donations for food and coffee–and that dollar amounts from other affiliates haven’t been totaled, you can see that this “crazy fitness community” is much more than one, singular identity. We’re not martyrs, but there are people with hearts of gold. There are people who recognize the power of many in the face of adversity, and they go out and do something to make a positive impact.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is a giant “thank you” to Ryan and King CrossFit. Thank you for organizing and growing an event that means so much to me, to my family, to my friends, to all of us. And to you.

And thank you to everyone who participated, near and far.

Isang pamilya. Isang dugo.

SEAtown CrossFit at the Philippine Relief WOD. Photo borrowed from the STCF Instagram page!

SEAtown CrossFit at the Philippine Relief WOD. Photo borrowed from the STCF Instagram page!

* Other memorial or tribute WODs are constructed in a similar manner. For example, there are variations of the 9/11 WOD. The 9/11 WOD I was a part of this past September concluded with a 2001m run after over thirty minutes of tough physical exertion; the burning in my calves was nothing compared to the sacrifices and the pain and heartbreak that accompanied the attacks. In some ways, these CrossFit WODs are intended to provide an outlet for reflective practice.

Regeneration*

My identity is ever-becoming.

I am acting strange because I am once again wrestling with who I am, what I want, what I love, where I’m going.

This move was necessary, a step to trigger the turbulence.

I’m sorry to my friends to whom I’ve sent a million messages, and I apologize that they’re so dramatic. But this is me. This is me processing. It seems, at times, dark and chaotic. And it is.

But the thing is…

this is me becoming better than I ever was before.

* And yes, of course this is a tip-of-the-hat to my favorite TV show.** Which also brings me to another point: I’m going to be on media black-out from Nov. 23rd through the 25th. I don’t have access to BBC America, so I’ll be catching The Day of the Doctor on the 25th, and I don’t want to hear any spoilers.

** EDIT: That should say “favourite,” I suppose.

Thoughts from October

“If you just keep going after the really pretty ones, believe me your happiness will be at most temporary and the fruit you will bare will not be worth your labor. Worst of all, we will continue to neglect the rest of the beautiful women out there. Women who have so much more to offer than just really good looks. Women whose beauty is matched, inside and out. Women who believe that love, when truly found, is unconditional. They understand that it, like everything else, requires work, from both sides. These women are smart and talented and awesome in every way. They are the ones who deserve our love. Believe me, Olympus may never fall but there is far more beauty here on the Earth, we just need to stop staring up into the heavens.” via Thought Catalog, “Why the Really Pretty Ones Are Just Not Worth It

Hello. I like what you just had to say, author of the quoted article.

But, let me remind you… let me remind you what Earth has to hold; those complicated women are scary, too.

Because the one I have in mind has lived in five different cities in just under ten years.

Her heart belongs to two, three, or maybe more, men who live in different corners of the world, and who they really are beyond the stories she’s made up to fill the in-between remains more of a mystery. But she loves mystery and much more than only a mental challenge.

Some things come easy to her; others are elusive. Love is the latter.

She can’t quite settle down yet. In fact, she left a city she saw a future with because she wanted to make sure it was the one. She’s full of restless energy, and she’s always running from one place to the next. No one has been able to give the chase their full focus, either. And in the end, who is really chasing whom?

Is it even a chase? Probably not.

Because the ones she wants are probably running the same restless race, and when their paths cross, no one’s sure if it’s just for a passing moment or if those paths will wrap back around and suddenly run parallel to one another.

She’s not sure what she’s running to–at least, she’s not completely sure.

And if that’s okay with you, then that more-than-just-a-pretty-face woman might be someone you want to get to know.

Better find her. Better get her attention. Better keep up with her.

Or, at least make it worth her while to slow down and match your pace.

(She’d probably enjoy the company.)

There Are Some Evenings

There are some evenings where I cannot find the words to capture my own thoughts and feelings. There are some evenings where my current state consists of confusion and calm, happiness and anxiety, love and the fear of being alone. There are some evenings where transitions catch up with me and keep me up, contemplating things for which I have no words.

There are some evenings when all I know is that what I want does not exist in my own words yet, but there are those who have already captured it in theirs.

So tonight, here is a Pablo Neruda poem. Linger with these words for just a bit, okay?

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Goodnight, friends.

Unconquered

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Henley

It’s been hard to write lately. Things are changing very quickly. They are moving faster than I expected, and it’s all because of me.

For those that haven’t heard, I accepted a job at the University of Washington. I begin in mid-September, where I will be taking my advising skills to the public four-year realm as part of the School of Public Health. I am nervous and excited and happy and confused and all sorts of different nuances. What I do know is when I need to be at work on that first day, and for now, that will have to be enough.

I spent a lot of today talking about CrossFit and love. My one-year anniversary is coming up, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this past year, as it really has much more to it than nutrition and fitness. That’s a story for another day, however.

Today, I talked at length about being a manic pixie dream girl and how I’m tired of my penchant for trying to help (“rescue”) the males in my life. As I have quoted many a time, “We are the hero of our own story.” (Thank you, Mary McCarthy.) That goes for all of us, regardless of biological sex or gender identity or sexual orientation. We are the hero of our own story.

I am looking for someone who understands that. He will understand that for himself and about me. He will be so incredibly fascinating by his own account that I can feel safe and comfortable in sharing my own stories. He’s going to be different. He’s going to be unexpected. We will find the space in our own stories where things don’t simply fit together like puzzle pieces–they instead create something new, something where the individual parts are still visible and still meaningful, yet the sum of the whole is more than those individual pieces.

I write about love a lot. But I write a lot about my journey there, because being alone is something I want to be good at. This summer has been such a good thing for me. And maybe, yes, I’m still unsure about the possibility of ending up lonely. As another friend and I discussed, it would be lovely to be with someone that looked at you not with lust, but with love and adoration and respect and the most genuine kindness. It would lovely to be with someone who would say, without prompting, without curating the perfect words, “That woman right there? I love her.” They would say it with feeling, with realness, not with the sugar-coated insincerity social media has blown up.

I fully expect the same of myself, too. I want to feel that spark and the simultaneous calm that comes from being with someone who’s a good match. There are a lot of opinions out there on “knowing” you’re with the right person; I am of the opinion that, if I allow myself to, I will be able to feel and know. I’m optimistic, because I haven’t quite gotten there yet–and it’s scary, not knowing what it feels like to know (see what I did there?). I have been wrong. I have been wrong a lot. I haven’t conquered nor mastered this.

And why should I have done so already? There has been so much change in my life, in who I am and who I am becoming. I think I like who I am becoming. (That’s a Drake quote?) I cannot (but I will) wait to see how things unfold.

I am a lot to handle. I bring a depth of thought and feeling to the table, and it is overwhelming to many. But… someone out there can handle it. Maybe we’ve already met, but does that matter when the nature of life is somewhat turbulent? I know he can make it through, and we can make it through to each other. I trust him.

Because he’s out there, too, hopefully searching for himself in this wild frontier we call life.

 

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The Art of Going to Weddings With Friends

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I spent the last two Saturdays celebrating love. I did so with some of my best friends from different circles and walks of life. Both weddings would have been less fun for me if I had gone with a new romantic partner. There was, first of all, no pressure. There was no pressure in having friends judge either one of us. There was no pressure of expectations. No pressure to hang around and make sure my date wasn’t totally appalled by the craziness of my friends.

No, instead, there were semi-choreographed dances. Lots of semi-choreographed dances. There were great conversations. There were moments to reconnect.

And that, folks, is how you do wedding season #bestsummerever style.

That’s all for tonight.

Why I Choose to Fail at Relationships

“You will take a trip, and you will see a glimpse of the self that you hadn’t run into in a while. You will see that you missed that person you always were and still were but had lost track of. You will meet a girl who is interesting but whom you don’t really feel very strongly for and you will continue to see her. You will mistake your lukewarm feelings for maturity, for an ‘adult’ approach to love that allows it to grow slowly and involves a careful accumulation of intimacy that is measured out as if cooking from a recipe card.

This will not work, and it will take you a while to see that you are merely bored and are trying to bolster your self-worth and a space-filler for a lonely girl. You will drift away from her, and you will be surprised by how plainly you can see that you don’t and never did care at all. You will think that indifference is better than being lit up only to be extinguished.” – Anastasia Sasewich – “Here is What Will Happen” via Thought Catalog

“I know someone who is soon marrying his girlfriend of eight years. He admits that he loves her, but isn’t in love with her. He says that they are very different, that they don’t have much to talk about as friends, that they bicker and fight. But time has built commitment, families know each other, and they are used to life with each other now. I said that sounds very sad to me. He said, ‘It’s not so bad. I pretty much do what I want.’ He goes out with friends, drinks and smokes weed, hasn’t really changed anything for her and she has just learned to deal with it. Well I guess that’s good, I tried. ‘It is and it isn’t,’ he said. ‘Because on one hand, yeah, I do what I want, but on another…’ He paused for a long time before he started again, ‘I never learned to love anyone more than myself.’” – Jill Neumann – “Don’t Settle For What Doesn’t Make You Happy” via Thought Catalog

These two articles have stuck with me for weeks on end. They stick with me because I see my past self in both of them. (I replaced the gendered pronouns with my own preferred partner’s pronouns in some readings–and in other readings, I imagined myself as the girls [women, hopefully] in question.)

I see myself mistaking “settling for” as a way to end the loneliness. I catch a glimpse of myself as recent as last summer, and maybe a pang of guilt should surface when I read the passage that accuses me of never caring at all. But how guilty can you feel when it’s so true?

With the advent of social media, it becomes easy to cherry-pick the moments we put forward. “Everything is great–actually, it’s beyond great! We’re over the moon with happiness!” But behind the infinite walls of the Internet, things are falling apart or they’re just barely holding together in the first place. It becomes harder to distinguish genuine happiness and what’s been spun the same way media moguls nip and tuck their every message.

We cater to an expectation of bliss and perfection. We become afraid to reach for something that could be fulfilling because that reach–and the lingering fear of failure–becomes too much. We hold on to failures from the past and let those attempts dictate what we try next. We try what is the easiest.

And when it becomes clear that this isn’t what we ever wanted, some of us won’t leave. Because leaving hurts. And remembering how bad it felt to leave or to be left still stings more than we care to admit.

And those that don’t or can’t or won’t leave will make excuses. For him, for her, for themselves, whatever. They’ll make excuses, and they’ll carry on as if everything is OK. Which it could be. It could be “just OK.”

But if that’s what we’re living for–“just OK”–then I don’t want to be a part of it.

I have made mistakes, but I have learned. I rule out nothing moving forward. I won’t say I’ll never try distance again or I’ll never date a friend again or I’ll never this or never that because that’s not how life should work. I believe in the intrinsic goodness of people and the weirdness of the universe, and yes, I feel jaded a lot of the time. That part is obvious.

But it’s because I have allowed myself to feel–not just happiness, but sadness, anger, jealousy, forgiveness. Everything you can–and should–imagine.

Failure sucks. But I find it worse to roll over, to give up, to never try, than to pick myself up again, even if it means not succeeding. This is my resilience. This is why I choose failure over never trying.

Through all the trials and tests and obstacles thrown at me, there remains hope. I’ve explained that a lot of us–a good portion of my friends, at least–are still trying to figure it all out. Those who are making headway are taking risks, are letting themselves stumble here and there, and are letting themselves grow from it all. There are those who aren’t, but I hope for their best that they see what they’re worth, that they deserve more than they think they do, and that it does take some discomfort to clear those hurdles.

And if and when that moment comes that you realize you need a shoulder to lean on because the weight of the world just seems like too much, I’m here. I’m always here.

One more quote for the night, which just happens to be my email signature, but which also sums up the reality of these stories we are writing:

“Adventure is simply physical and emotional discomfort recollected in tranquility.” – Tim Cahill

So–are you simply getting by, or are you going to live a life of adventure?

Bleary-eyed, but I could make out the start of another grand adventure.

Bleary-eyed, but I could make out the start of another grand adventure.

A Smidge of an Update

I’ve been busy, y’all. Last week, I took some days off CrossFit, made a really good meatloaf, saw the Postal Service*, and spent quality time with friends. Since returning to the gym last Thursday, I’ve made it my goal to practice double-unders and handstands as close to every day as possible, with my hated wall balls and pull-ups thrown in there, too. So far, I’ve seen progress in nearly all my skills, although wall balls are still so cruel for someone only 5’1″.

This weekend, I’ll have my best friend’s baby shower to look forward to. I love her and this group of friends dearly. That said, I am not playing baby poop guessing games. I will escort myself to the bathroom if those occur, and I will enjoy my mason jar of cocktail that I inevitably bring. (Judge me, I dare you to.)

In other news, I’m still focused on these October trips and beyond. We’ve hit $200+ on GoFundMe, so I’m trying to craft some kind of wonky fun video update bribe to get us to $475. Note that I’ve been saying “we” and “us” throughout this project–now that y’all (as in “the crowd”) are involved, this project has multiple stakeholders! So, join in on the journey.

I must be off, now. Lives to change, don’t you know.

 

* OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 I ❤ YOU, BEN GIBBARD!!!!!!!!

All of This

I am almost a month into “Hashtag Best Summer Ever,” and I have stored enough Vitamin D to get me through the winter, I think. I spent another lovely weekend in Seattle, visiting friends, visiting familiar haunts, and trying new places out. (Might I recommend The Commons out in Woodinville to you all? Try the boozy milkshake.)

Currently, I am taking several days off from CrossFit to regroup and recoup. Not just physically, but to take some mental renewal. For instance, I am spending some time thinking about what I am striving for with my career and chosen industry. I want to be intentional in setting goals for myself so that I have measurable outcomes. The biggest goal currently is to raise the necessary funds to present at NACADA in October. Again, you can help out by chipping in as little as $5; follow the GoFundMe link to the right for more information.

But other than presenting at a national conference, what else am I looking for? What comes next for an academic advisor who has found the most enjoyable conversations have come out of academic dismissal meetings? These students are given one quarter where they cannot enroll in classes at the college, and the majority of them come to the meeting with articulated reasons for why they did not succeed in previous terms. We get to talk about their goals and aspirations, and then we whittle it down to why they think our college fits into their plans, and then finally the logistics of registering for a class. It is an opportunity for us to explore the bigger picture together, and then get into the details and tactics of how to complete that bigger picture.

I like facilitating intentional thinking for others because it’s been such an important part of my own life. I want to find myself in a role where I can inspire students to change the world around them, one tiny ripple at a time. I want to see those “ah-ha!” moments come into fruition. I do not have the answers to what comes next; it is a process that is just beginning.

Besides my career, I am also taking this summer to really reflect on what I want in a partner. I have had so many failures to launch and near-misses and train-wrecks, that it is time to step back. A few weeks ago I brought up the fact that this is my first summer unattached and single in a very, very long time. It has been quite interesting to do the activities that I always thought were better with another person and instead just have so much fun just focusing on myself and my friendships.

Here is what I am starting to consider, in terms of this hypothetical connection I want.

We (“We” being “future Mr. Partner Man” and myself) have to be so okay with the idea of discarding “normal plans.” We also have to be okay with the idea of reworking “normal plans” to fit who we are–not to fit any one idea of what a couple should be doing milestone-wise. He should be okay knowing that I might shift my idea of what my career will look like and pursue the Ph.D. track with the sole intention of becoming Communication faculty, but he should also be okay with the fact that I might strive for a Dean of Students position. Or I might back off and go part-time and pursue writing and the whiskey bar I’ve been secretly wanting to be a part of. I fully expect this partner to have the same kind of aspirations, but the idea remains the same: moving forward towards fulfillment, towards purpose, towards happiness, and towards the next greatest adventure.

Somewhere in there, a home of our own and a family of our own will organically come forward. Dogs, kids, a yard? Maybe. A rabbit, one kid way down the road, and an urban loft? That could very well be, too. Something that isn’t even a blip on the radar? More than likely. The thing about me is, I am in a constant state of evolving and becoming; that’s how a relationship should unfold with me. That’s why I am not forcing anything or pursuing anything. I am not waiting nor on pause. I am here. And I am trusting in the infinite goodness (and weirdness) of the universe. (Do you hear me, Universe?)

I want this summer to be a summer of healing for myself, too. For too long, summer has been a season that I love because of the weather and the way it lends itself to spontaneity and adventure, but it has also been a season of heartache, historically. I want to show myself that I can be happy in the summertime by being a little bit selfish and treating myself the best way possible.

I heard a great quote last night on my drive home, and it really resonates with me because of the way I feel and experience this journey called life:

“I don’t think you can appreciate the glory of life unless you also know the dark side of life.” – Bessel van der Kolk, On Being interview

How true. Some may think I have too many feelings, but I cannot imagine a life in which I do not appreciate the full spectrum of my human emotion. This summer, I commit to spontaneity and intentionality, socializing and reflecting, growing and knowing when to take a moment for myself because all of this matters.

It matters more than I even know.

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