mistakes by the lake

sit down. let me tell you a story about ohmygod what am I doing?

Month: April, 2016

5 things I learned about traveling and anxiety

I’ve been away, not writing you things. I missed it, I missed you! I also remembered that writing is a tiny anchor that I require to stay present and passably sane. I have, however, been listening harder than ever.

I left my quiet home in Grand Rapids for a loud and beautiful journey from  Chicago to Miami. I slept next to my sister instead of my dog. I pulled on shorts instead of sweaters. I drank frozen booze drinks instead of green juice. The only workout I did was running after a bus (missed it). Things were very different than my normal routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved traveling, but in the last couple of years, it’s made me feel anxious. The change in routine, the lack of control, the unknown. This time, things felt different, and I have 5 ideas on why that is:

  1. I’ve been getting into the habit of trying to pick up on and focus on sounds when I’m feeling floaty (that’s a feeling, right?) or stressed. It brings me back inside, and makes the inside (of my mind) feel like a more peaceful place to be. In a response to my last post, my friend shared something that her yoga instructor told her and I keep coming back to it: “…the instructor told us to think of the noises we heard in savasana (passing cars, foot traffic, people talking, sometimes arguing, the pipes whooshing with water, other people breathing) as the universe carrying on around us. And to think of ourselves as rocks in that steady river of noises moving around us. To ground ourselves, to hold on tight.” In the middle of the dance floor in Miami, at 2am, you can honestly still find peace in the sounds around you.
  2. I gave up on control. You can plan your face off, and you will still miss a bus now and then, or forget to pack a single pair of socks (but like, so many necklaces? Why?) and it will be fine. One time, I left my entire suitcase in a taxi in NYC. I lost my shit. Literally and figuratively. It was super crappy. But I’m alive, right? My wallet was stolen in France. I missed my train in London.  Life is inconvenient as hell, but once I accepted that, it became much easier to take that dumb stuff in stride. I find that sitting down, getting a cup of coffee, and figuring out the next steps is a good plan when things fall apart. I will say, however, that scream crying in Central Park over my lost luggage will go down as one of the most dramatic moments in my life, and I don’t think I would trade that one in.
  3. It’s never not going to be stressful. Something I realized recently is that I am always going to be inclined to be anxious and emotional. That’s just what it is. It’s somewhat freeing to know that I never need to be perfect. Learning to deal with the garbage feels way easier, to me, than making sure I never again encounter garbage.
  4. Long rides in the car or on trains are amazing for relaxing into your head and listening or working through shit. I don’t know why, but they don’t bore me anymore. I also figured out the perfect position in which to contort my body to sleep comfortably on Amtrak. Thank you, yoga.
  5. Taking a nap on the earth is priceless. Do you feel that way? Just laying down on a blanket in a park or beach (or grass outside your office…I do it and it’s worth the stares) just does something good. No matter what city I’m in, that always feels like home to me.

So, that’s some stuff I learned.  My plan is just to keep listening, because I’m starting to suspect that the answers are waiting to be heard, felt and touched.



The author, trying to nap in Miami. Gotta get those naps where you can. Never let anyone tell you how to nap.


Listen up.


Does anyone else like lying in bed while someone else tinkers around the house? I love those noises. I’m not sure what the deal is, but lately, listening has been comforting and grounding. Maybe it’s a throwback to childhood, when I would lay awake, looking at the crack of light the door makes, listening to my Dad shuffle the newspaper. I have a roommate now, and I like to listen for the creaks on the stairs and the clinking of dishes she makes when I’m in bed.

I started thinking about this more in the last couple of days, since coming home to visit my parents. I feel so comforted, listening to the sounds of the house at night or in the morning. The plinking of cereal into a bowl, the grinding of the coffee maker, the cats meowing, my parents trying to figure out TurboTax, my mom’s fiddle music, and the sound of the garage door. I leave my door cracked so I can hear the noises better. The secret is out. I like lying in bed with my dog listening to house sounds. I should put that on my online dating profile.

So, as I sat down to write today, I was thinking about all of this. I wanted to find some meaning, or perhaps some message that the universe of noise was trying to tell me. And I sat. And I listened to the wind chimes outside the window. I listened to the cars, as the noises changed with their distance from me.  I heard a clock that I didn’t know my parents had. I heard my ears pop. I think that I spend so much time trying to figure everything out that I must have stopped listening to a degree. Just listening to the relatively quiet sounds of a house suddenly felt so beautiful and interesting.

Instead of coming to a conclusion on how this is all making me feel and why it’s something to pay attention to, I’m going to leave you with this question: What can listening do? What can it change or move? I’m wondering how this awareness of sound could affect the way I listen to people and stuff like that. This week, between now and next Friday, I’m just going to listen more.  Maybe you try it too? That way, when I tell you how it went in next week’s post, you can tell me how it went for you.  Are there good sounds? Bad sounds? Does music count? I don’t know the answers, but I’ll be listening for them.


Big coat+ big hair, don’t care.

Let me tell you a short story about big hair and big coats.

The other day I busted out the blow dryer, which I hadn’t done since I chopped my hair off. I blow dried my hair with the sole purpose of seeing how large I could make it. VERY LARGE, as it turns out.  And yes, I have free time that I spend very unproductively.  Now, this hair was not beautiful. Not something where I thought, Yes. This how we get the boys. More like Wowmy hair is so big and hilarious. I had a similar moment with an over-sized pea coat I recently picked up at a little shop called “Hall Closet, Parent’s House”. It does nothing for my form. It hugs nothing. It flatters nothing. It is so warm, and it makes me feel like Dana Scully from The X-Files, which is a good thing to me. Now, this might not seem like a big deal. I have enormous hair and a weird coat. Cool. BUT the point is that these weird things make me happy, and they’re not there to impress anyone. Nobody cares but me. That is something I have learned to embrace, after years of caring too much about what others think. Hell, I currently care too much about what others think, which is why unexpected joy about crazy hair and clothing is a tiny celebration.

I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve walked into a room and wanted to melt into the floor boards. In these instances of melting with insecurity, I’d like to think that I was just gathering steam. Gathering steam, gearing up for day when I would walk to the coffee shop in my giant coat, and Conan O’Brien like hair, and feel super fantastic about myself, and then head back home. That kind of happiness, however infrequent, is my favorite thing about right now, and it just wouldn’t be as special to me if I was pretending that today was the first day of my life. That past stuff is mine, and to dismiss it seems like a really bitchy friend move to my past self.

Why does stuff that has happened to us matter anyway? Why not just start over and say “That was last year, NEW YEAR NEW ME I LITERALLY CANNOT REMEMBER ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE TODAY LALALALAAAAA”.  I have tried this before, and for me personally, it does not work out. I have to respect myself, and that means acknowledging that I am all of my parts. All of my days. Even if I don’t remember them all clearly, they happened. I was me during them. Now I’m here, always. I’m carrying my past with me, not as a burden, but as a base. I can stand on all of the yesterdays. If I went through something hard, and I learned anything, I have that to prop myself up. If I made a choice that I regret, I have that. It’s here, so I might as well stand on it instead of letting it sit on top of me. It’s very hard to move that way. I don’t need to make things harder than they are.

I have no idea what you should do next, and I will never try to tell you that I do. If you’re like “what should I have for dessert” or “should I text this girl”, I will totally offer you advice. But, for the big stuff, the “seriously, what do I do next”, I think there are answers inside of our yesterday and today and plans that fell through and mistakes. I think that, when I listen to myself, and recognize a small shift, like giant hair and coat confidence, I can learn a whole lot from that. That matters to me.




This doesn’t exactly relate to my post, but I dreamed this up when I fell asleep while writing it, so…yes. Comment/share here or on social media to be entered to win a print of my weird boat dream.