Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Writing Retreat

1 Dec

This year for Thanksgiving, I decided to get drunk in the woods. This brings to mind two types of stories. The first is a tale of self-discovery and acceptance of all my shortcomings from which I return to the life I had with a little less baggage and wiser than when I left. The second is a horror film where I am murdered in an abandoned camp ground rented out by black-market organ dealers.

Thankfully the second plot was not the story of my weekend. However, I don’t see any Hollywood tycoons banging on my door for the film rights to what actually happened either. Media taints our perception of reality, we know this. I wasn’t expecting much, but at the same time I was expecting something, it is human nature when you are raised in the 20th century.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we?

I rented a cabin somewhere in Arizona I had never been called Lyman Lake. Simple, cheap, and out in the middle of nowhere (aka away from humans…I am slowly morphing into a hermit). The Friday after Thanksgiving I drove my hung over ass, my dog, and my high hopes five hours through several different forms of precipitation to a lake hidden in the mountains of Northern Arizona.

What I expected:

  • Monumental progress on my romance novel
  • Finishing the book I have been reading for months now
  • Plenty of hiking with Kali, my dog, so she got all the nature she doesn’t get at home
  • A blazing fire both nights over which I would cook bratwursts and foil packets of potatoes like I had seen on Pinterest

What actually happened:

  • I wrote about 3000 words, which isn’t even half of a novella
  • Still have 300 pages shy of the end of the book I have been reading (although I did make progress, I think I just read slower than I think)
  • One hike, just one, on the first day. It was about a mile and I had to stop several times to just breath.
  • No fire. Not one. I ate bagels and carrot sticks the whole time.

It sounds disappointing, but even though the weekend didn’t meet my expectations, I loved every second of it. I got a lot more writing done than I would have at home. I have been trying for months to make progress on this idea of a book, and I actually feel good about the direction the story it taking now. I spent a solid four hours just reading. I never let myself do that at home. There is always something to clean or errands to run or Netflix to catch up on. I was out in nature. Maybe I was’t stomping through it with my hiking boots, but I saw petroglyphs and actual stars splattered across the sky in all their unadulterated glory. Kali got to run and play and sniff new things, which for a dog is a big deal. She saw snow for the first time and realized it was cold, very cold. I swear those big brown eyes looked at me and thanked me for living in Phoenix. We walked more than any weekend in the last couple of months and that is progress. I even did about two minutes of yoga because the crappy cabin mattress made my 32 year old back ache like the dickens.

I can’t spin the food with a positive light though. I’m still mad I forgot a lighter and the brats I brought sat in the cooler the whole time. At least I ate my veggies though!

What I wasn’t expecting was the complete lack of pressure and the calming quiet of the mountains. I was more at peace than I could have even imagined I would be. There was zero cell service or wifi and that level of disconnection gave me permission to take my time with everything I chose to do. There were hours and hours to fill so whatever idea of a schedule I had come up with was thrown out the window. There were no messages or social media to check so I barely even looked at my phone which meant I didn’t have any idea what time it was unless I intentionally looked for it. I can’t even tell you how freeing that felt.

Am I going to run off to the woods to live off the land? No, clearly I am not built for that. Did I have any personal growth opportunities that will make me a better person? No, absolutely not, but it was nice realizing I could sit in silence and not literally go crazy. Am I going to be one of those people that deletes all the apps on their phone other than contacts and maps? FUCK no. I need to stalk people to know I am not the worst human that has ever existed and make sure my exes aren’t happy than me. Maybe one day I’ll work up to a weekly social media detox…one day.

What I will do is try to take more trips with just a book and my dog…and my laptop, I’m not an animal. And a bottle of vodka, that shit really gets the creative juices flowing. I will try to make time to do the things I actually enjoy and not just what I have to do to survive. I will take Kali on more walks.

I will continue to be the person I am, but maybe I will also manage to sometimes be the person I found in the mountains.

I will remember I don’t hate the snow as much as I think, it is nice in small doses.

Year End Reflections

28 Dec

Reflections #Pinterest

 10 Highlights…

  1. Going to San Diego in August.

Not only was this my first time in California, putting my toes in the Pacific waters, but it was also a long needed roomie/bestie trip with LP. We had a total blast for four days and enjoyed some sun, sand, and shenanigans.

  1. Mom and Dad coming to visit in April.

So many things happened during the two weeks they were here. I failed at hosting my first holiday (see below), they met Michigan for the first time (only the second time they have met a significant other), and we went on a four day road trip to see Sedona, The Grand Canyon, and Vegas (their first, and probably last, time).

  1. Speaking of Michigan (the man), he was a huge part of my year as well.

All of his visits were definitely highlights and something that made this year bearable at times. From him coming in March when we went to a Cubs game and the Renaissance Fair, to spending out first holiday together over Thanksgiving, every one was special and left me wanting more. We also celebrated ONE WHOLE YEAR together in October, which still blows my mind.

  1. My visit to Michigan (the state) in January also falls under the highlights category.

Not only did I get to Michigan(theman)’s home and meet his family, but I got to check off a whole new state from places to see before I die.

  1. Rogers and The Viking’s Wedding.

This June occasion was momentous for a few reasons. First, two of my dear friends tied the knot and even asked me to be a part of their beautiful day. Second, I got to go on a mini road trip with Michigan including a ferry ride across Lake Michigan (this Michigan thing is getting very confusing, note to self, consider new nic name…other note to self, no nic names after places anymore). Third, I checked off two more states with a visit to Madison, Wisconsin for the wedding and Chicago, Illinois on the way home. Fourth, Chicago!

  1. Anytime I get to go to Vegas is always on my list.

This year I had the pleasure of going twice! The first time was in March when TOGA and gang went for a week. I drove up for a night and although not as amazing as I had hoped, still mention-worthy. The second was for my 27th birthday. I got to share a long weekend with friends and have a roller coaster of a time with all the ups and downs you have to expect when Vegas is part of the equation.

  1. I am grouping together two outings for number seven because the bonding element they have was that I was able to share them with The Viking and Rogers:

*Monument Tour in August (Seeing Paramore is always epic and seeing Fall Out Boy along with them….there are no words!)

*Arizona Cardinals v. Detroit Lions in November (Football, friends, stadium full of screaming fans….what is here no to love)

  1. I am devoting number 8 to two anniversaries that fell in the last year.

The first was one year in Arizona in March and the second was one year at The New Foundation in May. This has been the most intense adventure of my life so far, but every step has been worth it. Mistakes included, I have become a better person, and even though my job is not he best, it is a stepping stone to higher goals (one which I very soon hope to step off of).

  1. The Biggest Loser competition I orchestrated at work in June/July (and almost won).

A lot more commitment running the show than I thought, but definitely a fun time for my crazy organized side. It was a close race and I am proud to say I worked hard to push myself to be better.

  1. Last but not least, although it may seem minor, I got contacts again for the first time since high school which has allowed me to have much more comfort while riding my bike to work and going to yoga.

**I would like to make honorable mention of two other events, which did not quite make the top ten, but none-the-less are worth mentioning.

Saint Patrick’s Day – An eventful day after which I could not look at Thai Curry the same way again.

Home for Christmas – The only reason I am suspecting this did not bump one of the other contenders above is because as I am writing this list, it has not yet happened.

10 Disappointments…

(In no particular order)

  1. My second DUI.

Between the horrific jail experience, the financial insecurity, the hassle of having an interlock in my car, and the enormous time commitment this has required, it trumps any other failure I have had this year.

  1. Not getting the job as AYSF.

Liz recommended me, I felt more than qualified, but due to my license issue, it was not meant to be.

  1. Missing Riot Fest in Denver with Anarchy.

Such an amazing opportunity wasted again because of the DUI fallout (seeing a pattern yet?). Then to see pictures and hear stories when Anarchy got back, ugh!

  1. Not seeing the Patriots when they came to play the Chargers in San Diego.

No money, no ticket, and LP is in the habit of ditching me anyway.

  1. The fallout with TOGA.

He got into a relationship, I don’t understand, we haven’t talked since. I realize his is probably an unhealthy reaction on my part, but I am not ready to come to terms with it yet.

  1. Decline in relationship with LP.

Although I expect tensions to ease when we are no longer roommates, there are definite differences to our friendship, which are not all entirely fixable.

  1. Being unable to fly back East for an entire year.

And in the process missing out on some pretty big life events friends have been experiencing. Feeling homesick is not a fun feeling.

  1. Misusing a lot of my time.

Whether it was due to laziness, depression, exhaustion, etc. I was not the best at making use of my time wisely.

  1. Easter Dinner.

I wanted Easter to be this impressive affair where I cooked for my family and my boyfriend and everyone was impressed with my hosting skills. I left myself no time and we went out to dinner instead.

  1. Continuing to be church-less.

It is a need I have been feeling I need to fill again, but between work and social anxiety, it hasn’t happened yet.

3 Game Changers…

  1. DUI

I am sure you can see the pattern above. It had affected every aspect of my life.

  1. Switching to IOP

It has been a fun and skill-building experience, bringing me closer to a co-worker and providing me with a little more freedom at work.

  1. Building a relationship with Rogers and the Viking.

They have been supportive and fun, really adding my connection to Arizona and my life here. I really believe that if there was no other reason to have moved here, they would have been more than enough to make it worth while. I will be sad when they moved back to Minnesota.

3 Things I focused on…

  1. Michigan

He is dear to my heart and I have spent a lot of time cultivating a strong, healthy relationship.

  1. Work

Not always my favorite place to be, but useful in developing skills and getting out of debt.

  1. Yoga

Being healthy is an up and down battle for me, but yoga has given me a hobby that pushes me to want to make goals and actually reach them. It fuses the body control aspect I once found so addicting in dance and the strength-building benefits I have been trying to accomplish, plus a side of meditation. Mind, body, and soul working together.

3 Things I forgot…

  1. Applying for Grad School

As I am writing this, there is still time to squeak that in under the wire, but I have my doubts. There is always next year (she said once again).

  1. Figuring out a better solution for my student loan problem.

For years now I have been battling with Salliemae just to get them to give me some small relief from the debt I have collected. After hearing about a couple different programs I may be eligible for, I have still done little more than minor research around them.

  1. Therapy.

Several times this year I felt I had hi a wall. Being in mental health I am a huge advocate for reaching out for support from professionals when life becomes too overwhelming. I still struggle to take my own advice.

Reflection…

I can’t say this year has been easy, nor can I say I have always been happy, but that is life. This year was more difficult than others, but out of adversity comes strength. I regret things that have happened, they will continue to affect me for years to come. However, that is not what I want to focus on as the year closes out. I want to focus on the relationships that have been built on love and acceptance. The changes that have lead my family and I to come to new understandings of one another. Big goals for the future and new roads I have been lead down. Life will never be easy, and I am thankful to have things to look back on that brought light even to he darkest of places. Here is to a year full of challenges and overcoming them.