Toxic People

At the end of my last post, I briefly mentioned toxic people and the role they play in our social media etiquette. The overarching goal of my last post was to get everyone to just get along already, so this might seem a bit hypocritical in contrast but we need to let go of toxic people.

I think that one thing we need to be mindful of is that people may be toxic to us, but they may not be toxic to everyone. They might, in fact, have a great circle of friends who share their values and beliefs and who absolutely love them. Which means that we shouldn’t feel bad about cutting people out of our life who are toxic to us. In fact, we could very well be toxic to them.

Oftentimes, I think it is a mutual thing. We should be able to tolerate everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to include everyone in our circle, or have close relationships with people that we just don’t jive with. And chances are, if you are having a hard time being friends with someone because they really grind your gears, they could be thinking the exact same about you.

I am not proposing that we cut out anyone who has a different opinion than us and surround ourselves with people who are carbon-copies of ourselves because realistically this could never happen since we are all unique, but it would also keep us from growing and learning and becoming more open-minded.

am proposing that we keep our closest circles full of people who share our core beliefs and values, but who also challenge us to be better people. Because we’re going to be happier and more successful if we do this.

And I think we should be honest with each other about how we feel.

It’s easier said than done. I struggle with this daily. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, I don’t want to cause any drama, and I will make up excuse after excuse because maybe I just don’t have the energy to deal with it.

But wouldn’t it be a lot better if we could just say, face to face, “Hey Karen, I know that we’re still Facebook friends but I really haven’t talked to you since high school and I realized that we really have nothing in common and to be totally honest the stuff you post on Facebook really gets under my skin sometimes, so I wanted to see if you felt the same way about me?”

To which Karen responds, “Actually, I was feeling the same way myself. Thanks for bringing this up like an adult. Now we can part ways civilly and move on with our lives!”

Obviously this is grossly oversimplified. Not everyone is going to react the same way, and not everyone acts like an adult (unfortunately). But I think being transparent and honest with other people is something we should all strive for. It really does come down to treating others the way you would like to be treated. I’d certainly prefer if people were up-front and honest with me all the time, instead of feeling like they have to put up a front or pretend like they agree with the things I say. I don’t know how many people in my life feel like they have to do that, but I’m sure there are some.

And even if telling the truth does hurt someone’s feelings, it’s probably still the right thing to do. I recently had a very close friend decide to cut me out of her life. Although I was very hurt by the way she decided to do this (which was not up-front, transparent, honest, or face-to-face), I have started to realize that our relationship was not really that great. At first, I tried to fix things the way that I know how, which is through open communication. This was not well-received and, with the help of my husband, I realized that it was probably better to just let it go.

Letting it go is not my thing. I like to attack things head-on, aggressively, until the issue is resolved. But that’s not always what needs to happen (as I am slowly learning) and not everyone handles things this way. Although I do still hope there will be reconciliation, I am trying to accept that maybe this was the right thing for both parties. Maybe we were toxic to each other, and maybe we are better off and will both be happier in separate circles.

To wrap this up, I’ll leave you with a few steps that I hope are helpful when it comes to cutting out toxic people (and surrounding yourself with people who share your values and beliefs, because that puts a more positive spin on it).

Step 1: Be aware of how you feel when you are around other people (or when you see their posts on Facebook or get text messages from them). Does being around them bring you joy or does it stress you out? Does it recharge your energy or leave you feeling depleted? Do the conversations more often have a positive tone or a negative tone? Ask yourself these questions when you are around the people in your circle.

Step 2: If you feel like someone in your circle is not bringing you joy, if they are bringing toxicity into your life, then be honest and open with them about it. But be kind. Be cognizant of their feelings. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Be calm, be understanding, and be open to a potential resolution. You never know, maybe there has been a misunderstanding and all it needed was some open communication.

Step 3: Invite this type of communication from other people. If you are going to go out there and tell people how you feel, they should be able to do the same.

Step 4: Remember that this is not some shallow bash-fest where you go on a rampage telling everyone what you really think about the color shirt they wear with absolutely no regard for their feelings. This is serious. If you’re just mad about some one-off instance, like that time Grandma shared some political propaganda, just un-follow her on Facebook for a couple of days and let yourself cool down. Don’t act out over one small thing. This is about who you want to surround yourself with for the rest of your life, so you’d better spend some time thinking about it.

Step 5: In retrospect, this should have been step one. Think about yourself and how you interact with people. Are you bringing them up, are you having positive conversations, are you adding value to their lives? Do you think they enjoy being around you? Don’t over-think every interaction you’ve ever had with someone, but take some time to think introspectively about whether or not you have been a toxic person in the past. We have all been at some point, I guarantee that, and we’ll continue to have those moments but we should constantly challenge ourselves to be better.

While I think this is a great start, it does not encompass all of my thoughts and feelings about toxic people. For example, toxic family members are a whole different ball game. I’ll get into that in a follow-up post. But I’d also like to remind everyone that this is just one perspective and, like everything you read, you should take all of this with a grain of salt. Think about it and see if it is even applicable to your life currently or if you have an entirely different perspective on toxic people.
But hopefully this got you thinking.

We’re Better Than This

When I look at social media, particularly Facebook, I see a forum that passive-aggressive assholes thrive in.

Let me take a step back. I’m not lumping any specific person or group of people into that category. It’s more like a daily choice. You can choose to be a passive-aggressive asshole today, or you can choose not to, and since we all make that choice everyday we’ve all been guilty of it at some point (myself included).

I used to have a season ticket for the Portland Winterhawks hockey team. I went to every single game. I followed their Facebook page. I would comment on their posts to try and win tickets for my friends. If they lost a game, there would inevitably be people who commented on the final score of the game with the absolute worst attitudes. They would say the meanest things about the players or coaches or refs, and keep in mind that some of these players are teenagers. They’re not even adults yet!

I would go on Facebook and I would read these comments and I would pick fights with these people. I would say things like really Karen, you think you could be a better goalie? Why don’t you play the next game and we’ll see how many goals you let in. I would reply to people’s angry comments and try to get them to see that they were being idiots, when really I was just stirring the pot and inciting this behavior. I was clearly part of the problem.

But the thing is, I was like sixteen, seventeen years old. Which is by no means an excuse for being a troll or a pot-stirrer, but it was definitely something that I largely grew out of and realized that my time was better spent ignoring Karen and letting her think she would be a better goalie.

What I’ve come to realize is no one has grown out of this behavior.

It’s all over. Every single post you read, whether it’s about politics, the news, someone’s opinion piece on why millennials aren’t buying homes, people are leaving these horrendously nasty comments. And then they’re arguing with each other just for the sake of arguing. It even happens on positive posts or articles. I read this great article about a woman who built a home for her family by herself, in order to get a roof over their heads and avoid the debt that comes from buying a $400,000 home. And there were all these comments about how she couldn’t possibly have built it by herself and where did she get the money to buy the land that the house is on and so many people have it way worse than her. And then all the people arguing on those comment threads about who is right and who is wrong.

You might be thinking just don’t look at the comments then. And sure, living in my own little bubble could be really great, but I’d like to think that if I saw someone being bullied or threatened or harmed that I wouldn’t just look away and pretend like I didn’t see it. I’d like to think that I’m the person who would intervene or call for help.

But there is no intervening or reasoning with these people. Once they comment, they are out for blood and they will eat you alive. And once again, I’d like to point out that no political party is exempt here, so I’m definitely not bashing on my republican friends and then turning a blind eye when my democrat friends do the same thing. I’m sick of everyone treating each other like this, regardless of who’s right or wrong or whatever. I’d like to think that there’s no excuse for treating people like garbage just because they have a different opinion than you.

But we have to toe the line, right? I’m an extremely opinionated and passionate person. I get fired up about all sorts of political and social issues, and I have a whole slew of ideas for blog posts that are going to be very opinionated and controversial. And I haven’t written any of them yet because I don’t want to create another space for people to argue and be mean. Of course, I’m going to have to get over that because I have things to say that I think need to be heard and there will always be people who disagree.
This is getting a little rant-y so I’m going to wrap it up. Here are some steps I propose we all take in an effort to interact with others on social media like the adults we are.

Because I’d really like for us to be good examples to our children.

Because we’re better than this.

Step 1: When you’re reading a public post, try not to look at the comments section (and don’t respond to the comments if you do). Responding to someone you don’t even know in an effort to get them to see that they’re being rude is probably a waste of time.

Step 2: Focus on the people in your circle. If your Facebook friend posts something and you see an argument forming in the comment threads, stay out of it if you feel like you’re going to do more harm than good.  If you’re in a bad mood, chances are you’re not going to choose your words wisely. If someone is being rude and you have a good head on your shoulders at the moment, try and respond to them in a non-engaging, non-threatening way and encourage the conversation in an educational direction instead. This is tricky because it can backfire quickly, in which case disengaging is probably best.

Step 3: If you post something, and your friend comments with a wildly opposing opinion, remember that you guys are friends and love each other, and then think about your response before you send it. Focus on why you posted it, what information you hoped people would gain from it, and let them know that you understand that they have a different opinion than you, even if you don’t agree with it. If they are being rude, call them out on it. Joking and sarcasm do not translate well in writing and misunderstandings can happen too easily.

Step 4: Only post “the facts” if you are okay with being fact-checked and possibly finding out that your facts are incorrect. On this blog, I try and stick with my own personal opinions because I don’t always have time to fact-check things and I don’t want to be posting incorrect information.

Step 5: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. To make that a little more specific, if you wouldn’t say it to them in person, don’t say it to them on Facebook. If you’re very confrontational (like me), you may need more of a filter than that but it’s a good starting point.

And remember, we are surrounded by and have relationships with people who have different opinions and beliefs than us (note: this is different than being surrounded by toxic people that we should definitely let go of, but that’s another topic for another post)  and somehow we still love them, like them, interact with them, tolerate them. It’s important to have people in your circle who have similar views and beliefs, but you don’t want a circle that completely cuts out anyone different from you.

We need our views and beliefs to be challenged so that we can learn and grow. But more importantly, we need to not let the passive-aggressive asshole versions of ourselves win.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
It really is that simple.

An Open Letter to my Parents

Dear Mom & Dad,

I started to write a blog post about the wedding, intending to give advice about what I learned from the experience and what I would do differently if I could go back and do it all over again, and I started over-analyzing everything I was writing. I couldn’t figure out which direction I wanted to go with it or what my message was. So I took a step back and really thought about it, and I realized that the message I wanted to write was to you.

So here I am, writing this letter. Don’t worry, mom, I’ll still send your thank you note in the mail. I’m trying not to overthink anything and just write what comes to me, but it’s so much harder than it sounds because I am such a perfectionist when it comes to my parents. I want to be absolutely perfect for you guys, all the time. And it is so hard for me to express how I feel, because I feel like no matter how many times I say it or how many different ways I express it, I won’t ever be able to fully express to you how much I love you.

If there’s anything I learned this year, it’s that Kevin and I are going to have to try so damn hard to even come close to being as good of parents as you. Seriously, I know everyone probably says this about their parents, but you guys are hands-down the most amazing parents in the entire universe. You are supportive, honest, transparent, loving, kind, funny…I could go on and on about you guys. You will always have my back. Not that I had any doubts before, but I could never doubt that after this year.
I know I asked a lot of you this year and I want you to know how appreciative I am. I feel like I will never be able to repay you for everything you’ve done for me this year, and that’s just this year! Don’t even get me started on the rest of my life! There are not many parents who are able to be both 100% honest with and 100% supportive of their children, at least not that I’ve seen.

You were worried about my relationship with Kevin. You were worried that it was moving far too fast, that we were taking these great leaps and bounds and skipping steps without really thinking about what we were getting into. You were worried we were rushing into it too fast and that we’d end up realizing it was a mistake when we were already in too deep. And you expressed those concerns to both of us, multiple times. And I want you to know that we both really took those concerns to heart. It is truly amazing to be so loved by your family that they will be completely honest with you, even when they know it’s something you probably don’t want to hear.

It felt like the first time I had pushed onward with something that felt explicitly against your wishes, so to speak, even though there have probably been times in the past where I’ve gone ahead with something against your advice. But you also taught me to follow my heart and always think for myself, so I forged on.
What really amazes me to this day is that despite the advice you gave Kevin and I, when we told you that we were still set on getting married this year, you supported us fully in that decision. And really, supported isn’t even the right word, doesn’t even do it justice. There’s no word that describes taking over an entire wedding planning process and painting your house in preparation for the big day. Seriously, you guys painted the house. And painted the grass (it’s true). Our bar was set pretty low; you could have just attended the wedding and we would have been happy, but you went ABOVE and BEYOND, as per usual.

And yes, you were right. It probably would have been a lot easier and a lot less stressful to wait until 2018 to get married, but we had our hearts set on it and it was an absolutely beautiful wedding. Perfect in every way. It exceeded my expectations. And you’re right, I loved the centerpieces on the tables despite saying that they were “unnecessary”. It was the most perfect day, the most perfect wedding, and we could not have done it without you. We appreciate your unconditional love and support so much more than you will ever know, and we hope that you’ll continue to give us all of the blunt, honest, sage advice you’ve got as we start our life together and begin this crazy journey called marriage.

I love you both so freaking much!

Love,
Your Daughter

One Year Later

Well folks, my one year anniversary of moving to Utah has come and gone. It’s officially been over 365 days since I packed up my little car and left my childhood home.

What on earth have I accomplished in that amount of time? Besides starting a blog about my adventures and then rarely blogging about them…

I got a real job. With real benefits, paid time off, and a 401k. It’s like I’m practically adult or something! I also had to start scheduling my own appointments because, as it turns out, my mom didn’t actually want to do that for me for the rest of my life.

I ran a half marathon. This was probably supposed to be one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. I did absolutely no training and had never ran more than 4 or 5 miles at a time in my life (and let’s be honest, that was probably like one time). The only reason I signed up for it was because I knew it was downhill pretty much the entire way (really only for the first 7 miles) so I figured I could make it through on momentum alone. It ended up being one of my favorite life experiences and I no longer hate running! I still don’t love it, but it isn’t anywhere near as hard and daunting as I previously thought. Plus, the french toast we got afterward was pretty amazing.

I got an apartment. Having my own space is pretty fantastic, but cleaning it and paying the bills kind of blows. But, living with a man who knows how to cook is awesome! I rarely have to cook anything unless Kevin wants grilled cheese (I make some pretty bomb grilled cheese).

I had a dog (for about ten minutes). Kevin and I discovered that it’s probably the worst idea ever to bring a dog that has lived his entire life outside, roaming the wide open spaces, to an apartment that is only 850 square feet and put him in a kennel for 8 hours a day while you’re at work. It didn’t really seem fair to the dog, so we took a road trip back to Oregon so that he could live in a much better home. We have decided not to get any pets until we have an actual house.

I gained 20 pounds. Yep, it’s true! Unfortunately, it turns out that you cannot eat a diet of only Chick-fil-a and In-n-Out Burger without packing on a few extra pounds. The free lunches at work probably didn’t help either! As much as I miss my swimming days when I could eat Taco Bell 3x per week and all the pasta I wanted, I have really enjoyed learning how to eat healthier and cook meals at home (aka watch Kevin cook meals at home and occasionally help him cut up vegetables or something).

I got married. Turns out, it’s really hard to plan your own wedding when you’re having it in the state you no longer live in. Also, a “low-budget” wedding still costs a lot of money! As unexpected as it was, my parents embraced it with their full love and support and the wedding simply wouldn’t have happened at all if it hadn’t been for my mom. She painted the outside of her house, found some paint you can spray on your grass to make it look green (did we actually end up using that?), planned literally everything (the food, the cake, the decorations, where to put all the crap that was in the backyard, the tables, the chairs, the tablecloths, everything), all the while trying to help Christopher with his first few weeks of 9th grade, and get Alex all packed up to move back to OSU. And somehow, she did not lose her shit on any of us.
Note: there will be another post specifically about the wedding later (aka whenever I get around to it).
Those are all the big things. The milestones, as they say. To end this post, I’ll leave you all with this list of all the boring things I’ve done since moving to Utah:

  • I slid my car into a snowbank while attempting to get on a freeway on-ramp.
  • I slept through the entire Super Bowl.
  • I paid for a personal trainer for 6 months.
  • I missed a flight.
  • I re-read (almost) all the Harry Potter books. Still working on 6 & 7.
  • But, I did watch all of the Harry Potter movies!
  • I made a vegetable broth and went on a detox for about two days until I became too bitchy to be around anyone and then I gave in.
  • I went to Lagoon and rode the same rollercoaster like 10 times.
  • I went to the emergency room at 4am. The service is really great at that time of night/morning!
  • I drove from Utah to Oregon and back four times.
  • I went to a place called Sodalicious and now regular soda will never be the same again.
  • I put together an entire Ikea bed frame all by myself.

 

Conquer Your Mind

I ran a half marathon last weekend.

I have never ran more than 5 miles at one time, but I somehow managed to run 13.1 miles.
I guess you really can do anything you put your mind to.

I decided, on a whim, that I was going to do the AF Canyon Run. My company was participating and they offered to pay for 50% of the cost of registration. Bri had talked about wanting to do the AF Canyon Run before, so I asked if she wanted to do it with me. I figured she’d probably want to do the 10k and that didn’t seem too daunting.

Instead, she said “Well, 30 is supposed to be my big year, and running a half marathon is on my bucket list.”

So we signed up for the half marathon.

I told my fiancé about this when he picked my up from work and the first thing he said was, “Oh thank god, I thought you were going to say that you registered me for the half marathon!”

Needless to say, he’s not getting out of it next year.

We registered really late for the race. I think we had about two weeks to prepare, so training was out. I tried to do some running, like one or two miles every other day. I probably didn’t even run 13 miles in the two weeks leading up to the race.

The goal was to finish in less than 3 hours. The first 7 miles were downhill through the canyon, so I figured we could run most of that without stopping too much. Luckily, the race started at 6am, so we wouldn’t be running in the 95 degree weather. We took a shuttle up the canyon at 4am and had to wait an hour and a half for the race to start. I hadn’t thought about the fact that it would probably be a lot colder in the canyon than it had been at my apartment that morning, so I hadn’t brought a sweatshirt.

Fortunately, they were handing out space blankets to everyone else who hadn’t thought to bring a sweatshirt. I now know why they tell you to bring one of those when you go hiking or camping, because they really do keep you warm! Imagine a hundred people sitting on the ground wrapped in space blankets; it looked like some sort of a refugee camp on Mars.

Finally, we started running and it didn’t seem so bad until we realized that my Apple Watch was actually about 0.2 miles off. It did boost our confidence when it said our pace was a 9:30-minute mile, although that may have not actually been true. At the very least, it did tell time correctly. We had to be out of the canyon by 8am, so we were at least able to use the $200 watch to check the time.

We made it out of the canyon without stopping, which was about 7.5 miles so we were over halfway there. This was such a profound, empowering moment for me because I was still making conversation with Bri the entire time. I have struggled with allergy and exercise-induced asthma since my swimming days, and even exercising at the 4,000 feet altitude in Utah has been harder for me. But I felt amazing after those first 7 miles. I could breathe. I could talk. The only thing that hurt was my entire body at that point, but hey, my lungs felt great.

The second half was a lot harder than the first. It was now an uphill/downhill/flat ever-changing landscape of a trail that wound through golf-courses and neighborhoods. And it was hot. It had been so cold when we first started running, but once we got out of the canyon and the sun came up, it felt way too hot to be exercising.

And the crazy thing was that people were out on the trail doing their regular morning run/bike and cheering us on.

When we finally made it to the finish line, so many people from my work were standing there cheering and waving. I cannot even begin to describe how ecstatic I was to be waving back at them and smiling as I crossed the finish line. In my most out-of-shape moment in life, I ran a half marathon.

Some of that euphoria wore off when I realized how much my legs hurt, and that I was chafing in places I hadn’t chafed since I did the swim-a-thon. But once I took a two hour nap and ate about a dozen Olive Garden breadsticks, I remembered that empowered feeling.

My legs are still sore and it’s been two weeks, so I’m not sure that the moral of this story should be “run a half marathon with absolutely no training” but I do think there is something to be said for not letting anything stand in your way of doing what you want to do, especially your own mind.

We are our biggest supporters and our harshest critics. So much of what we want to accomplish, especially when it comes to exercise, is a mental effort more than a physical effort. It’s harder to get out of bed at 5am than it is to do the actual workout once you get to the gym. It’s harder to run if you tell yourself constantly that you’re not good at running.

I think that the one thing that helped me through this race was that the only way I could fail was to not finish it. I didn’t tell myself that I had to run the whole way. I just told myself that I was going to make it to the finish line.

So, whatever you’re trying to accomplish right now, whether it’s getting up at 5am and going to the gym, or eating healthier, or spending more time with your family, or taking the time to read more books, remember that you can accomplish anything that you put your mind to.

Conquer your mind and you can, quite literally, do it all.

Don’t Travel in Your 20’s

I don’t mean don’t travel at all in your 20’s. Hear me out.

I would absolutely love to go to Europe. I would love to sit and read books in French cafés and write stories in Irish pubs. I would love to fill my Instagram with pictures of the Eiffel tower, beaches in Italy, famous historical monuments and museums and, of course, exotic foods.

I would also really love to pay off my student loan debt and start putting money aside to buy a house.
Lately, I have been seeing articles and blog posts about how everyone should travel as much as they can in their 20’s instead of getting into a career with good benefits and 401k that destroys your will to live, and I think that’s terrible advice. I think there is a way to do everything that you want to do in your 20’s without spending all of your money and ignoring all of that student loan debt.

It starts with finding a job that you actually like.

What if, instead of quitting the job we hate and traveling the globe, we could pay for our adventures with the income from a job that we loved or, at the very least, liked? When I started searching for my first post-college job, I made a list of the most important qualities I wanted in a company. Here are a few examples:

  • I want to work for a company that values their employees.
  • I want to work for a company that has opportunities for growth based on merit, not tenure.
  • I want to work for a company that allows me to take time off to visit my family.
  • I want to work for a company that pays well.

After having a few jobs that I really hated, I decided it didn’t really matter to me at this point if I got a job that aligned with my career path. It was more important to me to find a company that had all of these characteristics above.

And I did.

It didn’t fall into my lap. I had to babysit for a few months while I was job hunting, and luckily I didn’t have to pay rent during that time because I was living with family. It is doable, finding a job that you actually like. Since you spend most of your day there, you might as well have a good time, right?
Now you’re ready to travel, but make sure to travel smart.

 I don’t know if it’s just me, but I like to have spending money when I travel. It’s not appealing to me to envision a very frugal vacation where I am sleeping in cheap hotels and watching my spending every time I go out to eat. Plan your vacations in advance and set money aside for them so that when the time comes, you don’t have to stress out about overdrawing your bank account or asking your mom to Venmo you some extra cash while you’re away.

Make a list of all the places you want to go and start researching them. What time of the year is it best to go? Where can you get the cheapest flight deals? As much fun as spontaneity is, it’s usually more expensive.

My last piece of advice is to pay off that damn student loan debt. The sooner you get rid of it, the sooner you can use your money to travel more or buy a new car or put a down payment on a house. Set yourself up on auto pay for the minimum monthly payment, and use any extra money to pay off either the smallest loan or the loan with the highest interest rate. It is theoretically financially smarter to pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first, but it is often more motivating to pay off your smallest loan first so that you feel accomplished and ready to tackle the next one, so figure out which works best for you.

In short, you don’t have to wait until your 40’s to travel, but you don’t have to wait until your 40’s to start saving for retirement either. I know that we’ve heard all our lives that money can’t buy happiness, but financial wellness can greatly improve your health and well being and it can allow you to do all of the things that make you happy.

New headline: Become Financially Strong and Travel in Your 20’s.

Let’s make this a thing.

Leaving Home

I left my childhood home later than most kids do when they “grow up”. Some of my friends had children of their own by the time I moved out. I lived with my family until I was almost 22 years old. I waited until after I graduated college, and even then I probably would not have left had I not gotten the opportunity to move to Utah and live with my friend Bri and her family.

I came home to visit during the holidays and came to the strange realization that I was doing just that: visiting. I would probably never live in this house again (don’t hold me to that statement, mom). I felt like I was living in limbo; I was living somewhere new that didn’t feel like “home” to me yet, and my childhood home was no longer my home (at least in a literal sense).

When I returned to Utah after the holidays, I missed my family even more than I had when I first left home in August. The homesick feeling had finally arrived. Not two weeks after I flew home to Utah, I had to fly back to Oregon because my Grandma Dixie was moved to hospice care. Even though I didn’t make it to Oregon before she passed away, I was able to spend a few days with my family and that was well-worth the trip.

Her death made me question my decision to move away from home because I felt so guilty that I hadn’t spent more time with her during her last few months. But the longer I stewed over that guilt, the more I realized I had actually made more of an effort to stay in touch with her after I moved. I actually called to check in on her instead of relying on updates from other family members. Because we really do make time for the people we care about, even if we are states away.

I no longer feel in limbo because my home is with my people, no matter where I live. My home is with my parents, my brothers, my fiancé, my friends, my new coworkers, my old coworkers. I still think of and refer to my family’s dog as my dog (although it can be argued that she only really belongs to my dad, because he is the only reliable caretaker of the Kemper Family Farm Animals).

There will be people that I don’t see for a long time, that I fall out of touch with, and that’s okay. They are doing their own thing and I’m doing mine, and when we get together in one or five or ten years we can pick up right where we left off.  There are people, like my mom, that I talk to every day, and when we see each other it’s as if I never left in the first place.

Don’t feel like you have to stay in the same place because it’s home. Your home will follow you wherever you go, and new people will become part of your home along the way.

Adventure awaits.