Monday, February 24, 2014

My visa is expiring.. excuse me while I have a panic attack.

It's been 6 months now since I officially said goodbye to that once beautiful life I had back home in Wisconsin. It's been 6 months since wing nights, cheap beer, and lazy days with my very best friends. It's been 6 months since I left job security, a boyfriend, and the place I had come to know and so desperately love. It's been 6 months since I last hugged my parents, and cried my way through security checks, in the waiting area, AND on the plane.

It's been 6 months since I left all of that, for the shot at finding my place again somewhere new.

I remember leaving my parents at the airport and wondering why I always felt the need to be bold, adventurous, and the desire to be free. I liked comfort, stability and the simple life, so why did I want this so bad? And if I did, then why did I feel so alone in leaving? We all know that change is never easy, but especially to this degree. And the level of life changes I encountered that summer was enough to break even the strongest of people. It was a lot to take in, and it wasn't until my last goodbye, that I realized all I was giving up by leaving.

But in so many ways, moving was what I needed. And what better place to spend the year than in the beautiful land of Australia?

So, I hopped on the plane, knowing very well that as soon as I left, I would be completely alone. Alone as in actually not knowing anybody. Not on the plane, not in Perth, not in the entire country. It was all a little unsettling.

But just as easily as the fear and sadness overcame me, it just as easily dissipated. Because for whatever reason, I arrived here and felt instantly calm and at peace. I actually felt very much at home, even if in reality, this was practically the furthest place from it. And now, just 6 months (and half of my time here) later, I'm feeling really unready for the inevitable day that I leave. Because I have come to whole-heartedly fall in love with this place.

I love Perth for so many obvious reasons, and some not so obvious too. Here are a few:

- The weather is beautiful! It's rare that I see a cloud in the sky, the sun is scorching hot, and the ocean just minutes from my house. It's seriously a summer loving girls dream. Probably everything I've ever wanted in a place to live.
- The traditions. Sunday sesh has quickly become one of my favorite things ever. Rooftop bars, live music, cold beer, and my new Aussie friends. Catching up, equally hungover, with often hilarious stories to share. Last Sunday we all accidentally went speed dating. Post on that one to come ;).
- Tim tams. The chocolate coated 8th wonder of the world. Right in line with nutella and connoisseur ice cream.
- Roundabouts. Gosh, they really make SO much sense.
- Concerts on the beach at sunset. 'Nuff said.
- Outdoor movie theatres. Eating sushi, drinking wine, and sitting under the stars in bean bag chairs catching the next new flick. ahhhmazing.
- The friends I've made here from all over the world. They just get it! AND.. now I have that many more places to visit.
- My family. By far the most heartbreaking part about having to leave one day. Lola and Emilie have made my heart whole again. And THAT accounts for so much.

But most of all, I love Perth because of the way it's changed me. Perth did nothing but exist, and yet I feel like I owe this city everything. It's changed me in the way that your forever love does. It reawakened me, brought me back to life, and likely altered the course of my life forever. I've learned to be open, to appreciate, and to see beauty in things I never used to recognize.

I came here thinking a one year adventure would certainly cure my wanderlust, and now I know that it's a lifelong addiction that will probably never go away. Because instead of flying home as originally intended, I now have an entirely new set of dreams, that don't involve 'home' much at all. And it's not that I don't miss my family, my friends, cheese curds, or cheap beer. Believe me, I sooo do. It's just that now is the opportune time for me to be making these new dreams come true, and so I will.

Wish me luck as I so unwillingly enter into the second half of my visa, and have a full-fledged panic attack. And stay tuned for some major life announcements coming soon :)!
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Why Valentine's Day is equivalent to hell on earth.

What's worse than bro tanks, the flu, and a spider that just won't die? Valentine's day... and all of the materialistic nonsense that accompanies it.

Valentine's Day is one of those useless holidays that I would much rather replace with a day dedicated to eating burritos and drinking a 12 pack of beer. It's one of those meaningless occasions that claims to be all about 'love', but instead just feeds into more and more unnecessary consumerism. And frankly, the whole charade kind of makes my ovaries hurt. 

If you don't know me, I come from a few long-term relationships, 2 (and a half) times in love, to currently single and far from ready to mingle. In other words, when it comes to love and the works, I've pretty much experienced it all. And guess what? 

I always have, and always will, loathe Valentine's Day. 

I could barely get through February 14th during my days of being hopelessly in love and emotionally consumed by another person. But now, as my first year single in 6 years, it's safe to say that I now find this day virtually unbearable. Valentine's Day is a slew of different things to different people, but for me it's a combination of pukey pink hearts, and wanting to stab both of my eyes out with a fork. In my opinion, Valentine's Day is not a celebration, but truly a dishonor to love and all of its amazingness. It desperately undermines its beauty with a bunch of useless, and often horribly predictable crap. And.. well.. that just SUCKS.

You see, love is not a $7 hallmark card and shitty tasting chocolate covered pre-diabetes. Love is not 2 dozen roses to overcompensate for your lack of affection the other 364 days of the year. Love is not a competition with your co-workers over who received the best flower arrangement, the prettiest necklace, or the biggest teddy bear. Love is not a 2-hour wait, and a $200 mediocre meal for two. Love is not a show, or a feeling to be obnoxiously celebrated once (maybe twice) a year. 

Love is not any of those things.

Love is the instant connection, the undeniable chemistry, and the beat your heart skips at the mere mention of his name. It's his ability to hopelessly take your breath away with a simple move in your direction. It's days in bed, ordering in, and watching football or re-runs of shitty television. It's stuffing your face with cheese curds, because that's what you both prefer to a menu full of entrees you can't pronounce. It's the jolt back to life you so desperately needed. It's creative, thoughtful, spontaneous, and impulsively romantic. It's missed opportunities, bad timing, and the inability to ever let go. It's the dreaded moments of goodbyes, and the joyous reunions that follow. It's drunk texts, "I miss you's", and every moment spent together forever replaying in your mind. It's the butterflies, the rainbows, and the everything in between. 

That's love.

But every year, Valentine’s Day brings about the same predicament. Men are expected to shower their partners with predictable and thoughtless gifts, and women are to swoon over the whole charade. Love is not cherished, but instead made a spectacle of. And more common than not, the whole 'love' thing becomes overshadowed by the desperate need to have a perfect day together, with the perfect gifts, and the perfect guy who doesn't find Valentine's Day to be a complete chore (bore). And if we're being totally honest here, that in itself, is not an easy task.

And if you're single? Be prepared to be coddled, felt sorry for, and quite potentially set up. After all, it's not abnormal for others to view 'single' as some sort of disgraceful disease that you desperately need to be cured of. In fact, single and happy is often so unbelievable that people will try to set you up with just about anyone simply because you were both born in the same decade and have a mutual love of cheese. Must be destiny. 

And if other people aren't feeling bad for you, the whole 'day dedicated to love' thing often leaves the singles feeling depressed, alone, and sorry for themselves. And any day that has someone questioning his or her self worth without a relationship, is a day worth skipping altogether, in my opinion. Because, to most girls, being single on Valentine's Day means buying her own heart shaped shitty box of chocolate and crying to "The Notebook", while their wifed up friends go parading around showcasing their relationship to the world. It might even mean a bottle of wine and a drunk taco bell run at 2 a.m., too. This then leads to more tears, and reruns of Law and Order- SVU, to cap off a wild night of sulking.

And while that sounds incredibly exhilarating, single often doesn’t get enough credit, in my opinion. Because single is SO much more than that. Single is celebrating your independence, embracing your freedom, and discovering yourself and who you want to be in this world. It means showcasing your talents, moving freely, and knowing that there is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. It is being responsible for fueling your own happiness, and creating it within yourself, never relying on another person to create it for you. It means never settling, and successfully weeding out those not meant for you. It means setting yourself up for a success, when it is time to fall in love again… and it's enjoying every moment of the journey until you get there.

So whoever you are on this Valentine's Day, remember that the hype of it all can only ever be so meaningful, and that in reality, February 14th is just another day in the many more to come.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

BE the girl who travels

I bet by now you've seen the "Date (don't date) a girl who travels" articles, which, for the record, I find very relevant to my life in some ways. And while they're good and well thought out articles, I think that simply being the girl who travels is the key component. Leave the dating idea out of my life completely and now we're talking.

And so, here is my spin on the whole idea. 

Be the girl who travels and reawaken your sense of hope in the world. Let it change you, transform you, and give you a sort of longing that few other things ever will.

Be the girl who travels and is continuously blown away by the sheer beauty of unknown. Let it make you laugh, let it make you cry, and let it shake you to the core.

Be the girl who travels with bad hair, tanned skin, and more scars from travel than she could ever count. Embrace it fully. Let every strand, every tan line, and every flaw on your body be a reminder of the story that accompanies it.  Like it, love it, and cherish it. It's yours, and only yours.

Be the girl who travels and who can never truly pinpoint the best day of her life, because there are too many breathtaking moments to ever narrow down. Let it be the hardest question anyone ever asks you.

Be the girl who travels and constantly lives out of her comfort zone. Do the things that royally scare the pants off of you. Move across the world, throw yourself out of a plane, or (gasp) share a room with 10 snoring strangers to save $ 2 a night. After all, she knows that when it comes to travel, every single penny (or smallest denomination of currency) counts.

Be the girl who travels and knows no limits. She knows that there is no impossible, and she will spend every waking moment proving it.

Be the girl who travels, questions, and over-thinks everything. Set your own standards, and never be content. Keep moving forward, and discovering.

Be the girl who travels and writes to free her mind and share her passion with the world. Write to remember the way you were feeling during your travels at any given moment.

Be the girl who travels and lives out of nothing but a backpack for a year. Abandon the possessions that bring little to no real value to your life. Remember what it was like to be a ratchet-y looking adolescent without make up. Except that you weren't ratchet-y. You were beautiful without it, and you still are. Pick the bare essentials (not the foundation..) and GO!

Be the girl who travels as it reiterates your independent, free, and radiant spirit. Prove to yourself (and the world) that you can do anything. And that you will do anything.

Be the girl who travels and changes the world. Build houses, teach children, or volunteer at an orphanage. Serve the world that's given so much to you, and let it simultaneously give you a sense of greater purpose.

Be the girl who travels and discovers herself in the meantime. Get lost, and find your way again (in life, and in travels). Be afraid of showing up alone and having no idea what to do or where to go next. Let it scare you to the point of tears. And do it anyway.

Be the girl who travels as it will teach you how to be even better with money than you already are (or aren't). You will quickly learn that more clothes and shoes will only make your backpack heavier, your money dwindle, and your life more crowded (and clouded) with crap.

Instead, be the girl who enjoys navigating this beautiful world with or without somebody. Be the girl who travels and relies on no one but herself. Be the girl who few people can ever keep up with, or count on to be content in one place. Be the girl who doesn't need another person to be happy, and is self-sufficient in succeeding in life by herself. And most importantly, be the girl who never settles in anything- work, love, life, or otherwise.

Be the girl who travels, unless of course, traveling isn't for you. In which case, be the person you want to be, and be it fully.

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