Best Laid Plans

If you know me at all, this will not be a shock: I like plans.  I mean, even if I’m against the plan we’ve set, I like that there IS a plan, and I like that progress can be made, goals can be seen, and uncertainty can be slain where it stands.

So today, I bring good news and bad.  The good news is that I’ve un-made-up my mind, and maybe I’m not leaving.  I think maybe there are more options to be explored, more things to be considered, and jumping head first into ‘I’m Giving Up!’ isn’t the best thing for my psyche.  That being said, my psyche is SO MAD AT ME right now, because it would rather have a plan (even one that doesn’t sound too great) than this swirling mass of uncertainty.

Plan-loving me wants to tell you all that since I did away with the well-defined 66 days, I’m doing away with this goal to live more life.  It wants to tell you that instead I’m just going to lie around, watch tv, freak out about having no plans, and forget all about this ‘change’ stuff.

But you know what?  Plan-loving me needs to go to hell, because life isn’t founded on plans, and plans rarely work out as expected.  Plan-loving me needs to take a step back.  So.  I can’t tell you where I’ll be in 66 days.  I can’t really tell you where I’ll be in a week or so.  But until then…

Let’s work out.  Let’s eat better.  Let’s read self help books and just embrace all the cheesiness that is finding the way to a better life.  Let’s spend more time outside and less on our couches.  Let’s sleep less, but also sleep better.  Let’s hug our dogs and love each other and journal about nothing and update our blogs.

I don’t need a plan.  But I do need help (god that hurts to say out loud).  Let’s hold each other accountable and get to a better place.  Seriously, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  Let’s make plans (little ones, to do things, and go places!).  Let’s have real talk. Let’s get coffee (no, I’m not sick of coffee yet).



Fearless 66: Day 1

So I decided something kind of big today.  I’m going home.  I’m saving up.  I’m ending the paycheck to paycheck struggle and I’m starting over.  Part of me wants to look at this like I failed.  Like I wanted to make it on my own and I -can’t- and that breaks my heart.  And part of me thinks that this decision is…brave.  That giving up what I know and love to start over is tough, and I’m up for it.  That I know the risks, I know it’s gonna be hard, I know that I’ll be lonely, and discouraged, and I’ll get lazy and comfortable.  That I won’t be able to see where I’m headed, in the future, and that will be scary.  That I’m walking away from my support system, my coping mechanisms, my safe places, and going back to a place that hasn’t always fostered my best self (YAY for small town America and all but also…can you say isolation?).  But I know I’m doing the right thing.  For myself, for my future, and for my little dog.

So I’m trying to encourage that part.  I’m trying to be an optimist about this.  I know, from experience, that even when you know you made the right call, it hurts.  But I also know that it pays off.  Six months ago tomorrow, I made the right call to stay here.  And six months from now…who knows where I’ll be?

But for now, in the present, I want to share something will y’all.  I discovered, this week, while contemplating this move, that when you have nothing to lose, you really aren’t scared anymore.  So now that I can see the end coming, now that I can stare down those 66 days…I’ve decided to live a little differently for the time I have left.  I’ve decided to say what’s on my mind, to go after what I want, to work hard, play hard, love hard, and laugh hard.  I’ve decided that for 66 days I’m going to swallow my pride and my fear and live in the moment.

I don’t want to waste the next 66 days being sad over what I’m losing.  I don’t want to waste them freaking out over planning my future.  I want to spend them -appreciating- what I have up here.  I want to spend them with the people I love, at the places I love, doing what I love.

So join me.  For 66 days, let’s stay out all night.  Let’s hike with my dog.  Let’s go to DC for the day.  Let’s walk up and down Main St with no real purpose.  Let’s laugh and cry and share things and hold hands and be friends!  Let’s work really hard and love every second.  Let’s sleep all we want but get up and start the DAY when it’s time to.  Let’s be present, and alive, and fearless.  And on Day 65, let’s party it up like its our last day on Earth.  And on Day 66, I’m going to hit the respawn button, look to the future, and figure it out.

Who’s with me?

An Open Letter To Beautiful People

[I know I’ve been MIA.  I’ve been wanting to come back to blogging for a long time.  I’ve been drafting and redrafting an explanation, a reintroduction, something worthy of my next-first post.  But you know what?  Let’s just jump in.  That usually works.]

To someone,

To everyone, and also no one, and also, in the end, to myself,

You’re beautiful to me.  It seems weird to tell you that.  Because when I say it out loud, it always sounds like it’s meant for my friend with the newly blonde hair, or my dog with his new Christmas sweater on, or the girls in the bar who are worried they look like cows.  But that’s not how I mean it this time.

It’s beautiful that you can be so patient in the face of something so heartbreakingly sad and frustrating.  It’s beautiful that, in my life, you’re a little out of it, a little irresponsible.  But in the right context, you can be amazing like that.  I see it, you know.  I see how you shine with your family, with those kids in your building.  I see it in the way you’ve managed to not lose me yet.  And I think that’s beautiful but I can’t tell you.  Everyone has a place where they shine.  Everyone has beautiful parts.  It’s amazing to get a glimpse at them when you least expect it.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch you out in the world.  You’re mean, you’re crazy, you don’t listen, you don’t sit still, and if you were a child, trust me, you’d have no friends.  But all I can do is watch you live life with this kind of painful envy because you’re so full of WONDER and unlike most people…you’re not going to grow out of that.  Thank you for being my life.  Thank you for finding your way to me, and for letting me see (under all the meanness and wildness and smelliness) the beauty.

It’s beautiful how much you try.  How you don’t know what to say, or how to act, but you try.  It’s beautiful how when I call to talk about something, I can’t make myself say the words and you can only do what you know to do, like fix a cell phone or discuss snow tires.  It’s beautiful how you don’t understand my choices, but you try not to disagree with them.  How you’re watching me wander around confused and sometimes screwing up and you’re letting me.  And also managing to not lose me.  Maybe you don’t know what you’re doing. But you try, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year, it’s that all we can do is try.

Thank you, most of all, for teaching me that.  For telling me I’ll be ok.  For teaching me that everyone is where I’m at, and all of us are trying, and that’s the best we can expect from each other.  It’s beautiful that you see things like that.  It’s beautiful that you haven’t lost me either.  It’s beautiful that life goes on, and you go on, and sometimes I get to join in.  Before, to help me, people were always taking things out of my hands.  People were all like “It’ll be ok, I’ll take care of it, try to stop worrying.”  I don’t know why, it seems so simple, but no one ever thought to look at me, with all my issues, and say “you got this” and do nothing else except stay.  That’s beautiful.

And finally, in a completely different way, thank you for letting me leave.  Thank you for losing me.  Because I always saw you were beautiful.  But I needed enough space to find out that sometimes, in the right light, I am too.  Thank you for letting me do that.

Here’s a secret about beautiful people for you: It really does come from inside.  I know that’s a cliché that we tell our daughters when we won’t let them buy lipstick.  But the people I love, the things I love about them, they are the secret things.  The moments they were reluctant to share with me.  The things they thought I didn’t notice.

I noticed.  And tonight, it’s quiet, and I have so much that I take for granted, and I thought (without naming names, or getting too personal), I’d put some gratitude and some beauty out there in the big wide world.

Sleep well, you beautiful people.  Yours until you give up on me,

Positively Rachel

30 Life Lessons For 20-Somethings With Too Many Feelings

As true to me as if it had sprung from my own mind.

Thought Catalog

1. Laugh constantly. Laugh freely. Laugh at every moment in your life. Laugh when it is appropriate. Laugh when it isn’t. Laugh when it fucking hurts like hell. Laugh when the happiness escaping your throat is as smooth as a whiskey seven. If you cannot laugh when you’re beat down. When you are hurt. When you are two seconds away from inhaling a pain that will drown you, you will never survive.

2. Orgasms are by far, hands down, the best thing for your complexion. Don’t waste money on some ridiculously overpriced face wash. Lancome is a lie. So is Cover Girl. Instead, put your fingers to work. Go pay the thirty or fifty bucks for a bunny that’s guaranteed to get you off. Become comfortable enough with an individual to sleep with them on a daily basis. Just cum consistently and your pores will thank you.

3. A cob…

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Good And Bad

I’ve never been good at facing ‘tragedies of life’.  I mean, I’ve never visited a family member in the hospital. I was surprisingly nonplussed by the passing of my dear sweet Gramma last year (I miss her, and I’m sad, but my world wasn’t exactly rocked).  It’s a defense mechanism.  It usually backfires, because whatever energy I’m storing up inside me comes out in other nonproductive ways (like overreactions, fights, panic attacks, laziness, and pessimism, to name a few).  

I’m not sure where it came from.  Maybe I’m a naturally pessimistic and shallow person.  Maybe there was some early childhood incident where my parents did show me how to handle something and now ‘say what you’re expected to, file it away in your brain, and move on like nothing happened until you snap’ is my M.O.  Who knows?

(: – – – :)

I’ve always been good at writing – but only (however ironically) during such tragedies.  When my neighbor killed himself (we were both 13) I went through an amazing poetry-writing phase.  Even now when I go back and read some of that, I can’t believe it came out of little adolescent me.  I’ve been through several depressive episodes that have yielded monologues, poems, short stories, and letters that move me to tears all these years later.  When my boyfriend and I broke up several years ago, I spent about a year maintaining a hilarious and sarcasm-filled college-girl blog that I now can’t seem to find the voice for.

(: – – – :)

I don’t know why this is so hard for me to handle in person.  I don’t know why I can’t tell people, cry for a while in my room, eat some ice cream, and move on.  I don’t know why I didn’t rush home and drop my responsibilities.  I don’t know why I can’t just call my mother (the cold that made me lose my voice notwithstanding  and talk, even if it’s not about this.  But I can’t.  Something blocks me, and that something is probably what betrays me and my search for happiness later.  The one thing I do know is that I can handle it here.

Misty Morn’s Ariel’s Angel is gone.  Forever gone.  Even though we knew this was coming, and I haven’t lived at home in 3 years, and she was never the dog of my dreams, and she was never very involved, or very bright, or very loyal…I still hurt.  It’s not so much the fact that she’s gone – it’s that she’s not here.  It’s not that she’s dead, it’s that she’s no longer alive.

She was beautiful – more beautiful than we, who lived with her every day, stopped to notice.  She tried so hard.  She always seemed a little lost, and maybe we should’ve been more gentle with her.  She was weird, and she was ours.  She was there when I wasn’t visiting my hospitalized family members.  She was there when my neighbor died.  She was home when I broke up with my boyfriend, and she was home when I fell into that pit of despair that resides within my own brain…but she was still mine: she still was.

The worst part about this, honestly, is that now I’m dog-less.  Being a dog lover, a dog owner, a dog person has been such a huge part of me for as long as I can remember.  And now…being dog-less…it hurts so much and it’s not something I was prepared for.  I thought I would be sad, and miss Angel, and I do.  But I didn’t realize how much it would hurt me to think that to myself.  To think: I don’t own a dog.  I have no dog.  Every dog out there is someone else’s (or nobody’s) and suddenly…I see how it is.  To not be a dog person.  To see the idealized picture of a dog that everyone else has and to think ‘huh, that’s nice, good for them’ before going back about my day.

And I don’t want it to be like that.

I hope, someday, I get one again.  I’m terrified, to my very core, that I’ll get used to this.  You can get used to anything after enough time, they say.  I’m terrified that a dog will seem expensive, and dirty, and large, and difficult to obtain and I will just never get around to it.  I’m terrified that I will forget all the reasons I need one.

Because even when she was 13, and smelled bad, and had dandruff, and couldn’t get up stairs, and didn’t recognize me, and couldn’t hear, and didn’t like to be touched or held or played with…Angel made me smile.  She made me feel better just looking at her, hearing her snore, knowing there was a dog over there.  All dogs go to heaven because all dogs are Angels.

Don’t let me forget that.

Welcome to Anxiety Anonymous

Hi.  My name is Rachel. (Hi Rachel).

I’m 20 years old, I’ve been a mental mess for approximately 11 years (although who can really say) and I’ve been actively trying to change that for the past 8 months.

I am a pessimist.  This is an actual state of your brain, you know.  This causes changes in your brain’s structure, like larger emotional regions and smaller regions associated with personality and decision-making.  This means that, after 14 years of conditioning my brain into a pessimist state, growing these regions back up to normal size, and learning to break negative thought patterns is quite the task.

I have abandonment issues.  I’m paranoid sometimes.  I’m sure I’m sometimes clingy, and (when that seems to vulnerable) entirely made of untouchable stone.  There are walls and barbed wire and fences and alarms all around my heart so you can’t touch it.  I have trust issues – lots of those.  Making friends is hard…and keeping friends is harder.  I’ve conditioned myself to believe that no one is going to stick around for the long haul (this kind thinking tends to self-fulfill).

I’m recovering from depression.  I’ve never not been riddled with anxiety.  I second guess everyone’s motives – I’m convinced that compliments are false, everyone’s playing me, and when people say they care it’s out of guilt or obligation.

(: – – -:)

This is why mental struggles suck.  Nobody can see them – they’re not like a wheelchair, or a hearing aid, or a cast.  Many people don’t believe in them (just wait – they’ll understand some day).  And even when you know that you’re being irrational, or that you should be nice, or that you can fix it….your brain is just an organ.  Your brain just follows the patterns that you’ve grown into it over years and years and years.  So even when you’re planning to ‘understand my parents just want the best for me’ or ‘be really nice and make a new friend during this group project’ or ‘cut your boyfriend some slack until after his big test’… can’t.  You can’t because that tiny logical part of your brain is completely overpowered by the emotional centers that only know how to do one thing: pick up on a negative possibility, obsess, blow it out of proportion, and then get you out of whatever social situation you’re in so that you can go back to bed.

Every day is a fight against my instincts.  Every day is carefully planned and takes so much effort and generally doesn’t appear (from the outside) to be especially productive or amazing.  But every day is one step closer.  Every day builds up new neuron connections, and strengthens weak ones, and every moment that I’m NOT obsessing negatively, I’m NOT building up those pathways.

That’s what this blog is for, after all.  Little ways for me to sort of the feelings and see things like they really are.  Little positive reminders that I can look back on when the darkness comes back.  Little ways to connect with a world I sometimes feel pretty alone in.  I usually try and keep it positive, but today I just really had to be real with you guys.  I just really had to put this out there.

So welcome!  Welcome to Anxiety Anonymous.  I’m sick of hiding.  This is what it’s like.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone – I just wish someone else would step up, be real with me, and stick around while things are what they are (for both of us).  Nobody is perfect, after all.

My Brain Child (II)

You may (or may not) remember that about a month ago, I hinted at some vague new project of mine, and then gave you guys my pretty standard “there’s a lack of public education in science’ rant.

(If not, feel free to catch yourselves up.)

Well, here it is.  All the details.  All of my adorable little brain child out in the world for you to see:

Once you check this out, you should show all your friends, and also like it on facebook (  Because I’ve taken the deep breath and now I’m going public.  I’m doing something with my life.  And just this afternoon, someone from the University newspaper sent me and email and wants to interview me for an article on student bloggers.  So who knows, maybe this is my big moment.  Let’s find out, shall we?

Real Friends

Real friends want you to succeed at stuff you care about.  Real friends care about your worries and your problems.  Real friends don’t judge your taste in music, or clothing, or books, or food.  Real friends are willing to wait until you’re out of class to get dinner.  Real friends notice when they offend you.  Real friends make it known that they have your back, day or night.  Real friends can be counted on.  Real friends are in it for the long haul.  Real friends don’t play mind games.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give anyone is this:
Go get yourself some real friends.  Take the time and effort to cut toxic people out of your life, and start fresh.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard.  The journey is long, and you have to make it through the ‘I have no friends’ period of transition.  People will judge you, you will judge yourself, and you’ll probably have to swallow your pride, and put yourself out there for people.  But trust me – in the end, it is worth it.  You have no idea the effect the people you see, admire, listen to, and praise have on your life.  Make sure they’re the right kind.

Because I’m A Girl

Because I’m a girl, haircuts make me feel better.

(: – – – – :)

I used to be very focused on the fact that being a girl sucks.  And it does, it definitely does.  I mean, for one, there are periods.  And on the other 26 days of the month, you still have too many hormones.  Things make you cry for no reason.  Bra shopping sucks.  You don’t get to propose, or ask anyone to prom, or ask a guy out (without seeming a little too outgoing).  Clothes you look good in are not comfortable.  If you value being comfortable, you don’t get to be ‘one of the pretty ones’.  Make up takes a long time.  Nice shoes are expensive.  You have to find a bathroom to pee and can’t just do it in a bottle while on a road trip.  Right-out-of-bed hair only works on guys.  If you cut your hair to short all guys think you’re a lesbian.  I could go on…but I won’t.

The point is, being a girl doesn’t have to suck.  At the same time, it’s not really awesome, either.  It just is.  Can we all accept that?

Can we accept that haircuts make me feel better, I think pretty shoes are worth the pain, and I will NEVER have enough nail polish colors?  That sometimes I need to cry, that when I need chocolate you should get it for me without question, and that I love a good sappy book that makes me cry?  Can we just accept that it takes me a while to go shopping, and that if you don’t tell me it looks good I won’t buy it, and that I always feel guilty when I eat too many carbs, even though I’m not fat?  Let’s just accept these things, you and I.  I am a girl.  I need to change my hair a lot, just because.  I need to be told I’m beautiful.  I tell everyone I was too cool for prom, but actually I wasn’t cool enough.  I know that nerdy girls don’t win, and sometimes I’m ashamed of all my books and my love for R2-D2.

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I am a girl.  It is what it is.