Being vulnerable doesn’t come easy for me. I’m not quite comfortable with it yet and I suppose I won’t be until I just do it. Here we go.
The short version: I’m 34 and live with my husband and our rescue Australian Cattle dog mix live in the heart of Sacramento, California. I’m a yoga teacher, vegetarian, and nature lover. I’m also an amateur photographer, film enthusiast, and storyteller. I struggle with depression, anxiety and quitting smoking. I believe in a higher power, aliens, and ghosts. Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food and I drink a fuckton of iced tea in the summer. I curse like a sailor and am full of opinions.
I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and grew up an only child in Vacaville, California – a town centrally located between Sacramento and San Francisco. I grew up in typical suburban fashion – where exploring nature meant playing at the park behind my house as a kid – which I’m not mad about, we had fun, it was the 90’s!
In terms of “family vacations”, we never went camping as a family or spent time on a lake or river. Our family vacations were (usually) spent in one of two places: visiting family in Southern California or visiting family in Oregon.
I had family members who lived in a little town called LaPine, about an hour outside of Bend. My family in Oregon lived in such drastic contrast from the suburban life I had grown up in. I loved it. I explored and climbed on everything I could. My cousins and I would hunt for old relics, create elaborate stories and games in the forest at my Grandmother’s house. We played volleyball in the dirt and ran through pastures at my great Grandparents’ house. I went fishing (always without success) with my great Grandfather, helped him tend the garden and caught chipmunks at my great Uncle’s house (by the way, this is a BAD idea. Don’t attempt to catch chipmunks, they don’t like it. Trust me). Spending time in nature seemed only available to me on vacation – visiting family. I had no idea the profound impact all that time spent exploring my family’s property would have on me later in life.
In high school and college, nature was merely a location to party at. We’d party in fields, we’d party at the lake, we’d party in the hills. There was no appreciation for the beauty around me, only booze. I was a bonafide party girl by the time I had graduated high school.
It only seemed appropriate to attend a college notorious for partying, so I went to Chico State. I majored in Political Science, then Communications, then Music Industry. I took classes in sociology, religion, and philosophy that each changed my life. But, I was unfocused without a clear goal in mind. My desire for knowledge gradually gave way for a much stronger desire: to be liked.
Feeling out of place in Chico, I transferred to Sacramento State and studied Photography. I finally felt like I found somewhere I belonged. I was fortunate to be a part of the amazing music scene in Northern California in the early 2000’s. Music was the only thing that made me feel anything. I yearned for other people’s lyrics to help me understand my own feelings.
Despite having found a place in life where I felt connected, I still felt anxious. I’ve always been an anxious person, but it consumed me more and more with each passing year. Since high school, I’d combat it with alcohol and usually end up blacking out. At the time, I couldn’t even acknowledge my anxiety. I was oblivious to what my feelings were telling me. Too often I felt overwhelmed by feeling so much I couldn’t articulate. Alcohol kept all that shit at bay. It kept me numb. And it’s much easier to go through life numb than it is to do the work. It wasn’t until I took a yoga teacher training that I learned about the importance of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-worth.
In the years to follow, I’ve made it a priority to get to a place of self-acceptance and self-love. It’s a daily task to forgive myself and let go of the past, but I refuse to live numb anymore. I refuse to let those negative anxious thoughts control and convince me of anything other than my awesomeness. I don’t want to dwell on anything other than this moment. I use breathing techniques instead of alcohol to ease my anxiety now. I use movement to stay mindful and present. My desire to be liked by others has been replaced by my desire to love myself.
As I get older, grow and evolve, so do my interests. In recent years, I’ve made an effort to shift my energy towards activities that aren’t as self-destructive as blacking out on a regular basis. It started with yoga, then yoga teacher training. I took up running until I discovered road cycling. Then, craving nature more, I discovered kayaking and backpacking. Through all of my experiences driven by these activities, I continue to learn so much about myself. I’ve learned that I am worthy of love, that my story matters, and that I am not alone.
Now, I love myself more than ever. There’s always work to do, but it’s getting easier. I, much like this blog, am a work in progress.