Real Talk: Wolf Packs

Real Talk: Wolf Packs

“Do you think it’s more important to have a diverse group of friends or a wolf pack that you roll with for life?”

Friendship.

The older I get, the more I have to say about the topic, the more I value it, and the more I see how complicated it can be. When I was growing up, my friendships were the only constant – they were the relationships that I ran to and knew would be there like I knew the sun would rise. Everything else in life was where the fluctuation was. Boyfriends, jobs, family dynamics, life decisions. But my BFFs? Solid.

Then, I got a little older.

To answer the question, I prefer to have my cake and eat it too. I would always choose both, but what do I think is more important? I might ruffle some feathers saying this, but I have been surprised over and over again at the impact the different people who have come in and out of my life have had on me. So I’m gonna go with option A.

#diversityforthewin

I value growth. I want to become more and more awesome the older I get. Or rather, more fully myself. And how I’ve gotten closer to that has everything to do with the diverse group of friendships I’ve had along the way. Some remain and some fade away, but they were all meaningful and if I wanted to overthink on it a bunch, I could tell you that every single one of those people taught me something different.

I’m taking “diversity” to mean that you are open to, and make friends with, a wide array of people. They don’t necessarily become a wolf pack, nor do you necessarily roll with them through your entire life. On the flipside,  I’m taking “wolf pack” to mean the same friends, all together, all the time.

Luckily we live in a universe that doesn’t make us choose between one or the other. But to be honest, sometimes I’ve felt like I had to.

Sometimes I feel like a shitty friend because I can’t keep up with all of the rad people that have made their way into my heart. It’s an awesome problem to have, one that I’m sure my awkward thirteen-year-old self would be proud of. Oh you’re that popular that you feel like you have too many friends?

Cry me a river.

But that’s when friendship got a little more complicated. When there started to be more than one wolf pack, when I started to value different things, or moved, or grew, or changed, or couldn’t keep up. Friends I met at school, friends I met traveling, friends I met in the workplace, and then another workplace, and then through friends of friends, and then I even become friends with an ex’s ex.

What’s next? Brunch with my ex-boyfriends?

ENOUGH FRIENDS ALREADY.

I know what you’re going to say to me: “It should be about quality not quantity.”

Save it.

My pushback will be that unlike all of the terrible boys I dated circa 2014, I happened to find a shit ton of quality platonic relationships.

In all seriousness, I think the older we get the more clear we get on who we really connect with, and that shifts and changes too depending on what’s going on in our lives. But I think the mistake we make is labeling that shift bad. Those “friends for a season” people aren’t necessarily shitty friends. Maybe you can just love them for what they gave you in those moments of friendship, and that’s enough.

I know there’s not a single friend that I’ve drifted away from that I don’t cheer for from afar. But being okay with that is where the growing pains are.

Letting in all that “diversity” has been so worth it for me. The mentors, the party animals, the single-girl companions, the older & wiser, the young & borderline insane, the ones I had the time of my life with and the ones I cried my eyes out in front of – I wouldn’t trade all those experiences for anything. Maybe they could have happened with the same wolf pack, but they didn’t in this girls journey.

My current friend roster ranges from age 22 to 66. And that’s not including family.

The 22-year-old literally just does whatever he wants and doesn’t overthink anything. And by “does whatever he wants” I don’t mean partying with reckless abandon. I mean he’s an Instagram famous self-taught photographer, he’s started his own brand and magazine, and he even makes candles. He’s inspired me to just start whatever it is I want to start. Zero overthinking.

The 66-year-old is my absolute favorite coffee date. Nothing beats the wisdom behind her twinkling blue eyes. It’s such a unique experience, listening to someone with that many more decades of life experience than you. It’s both humbling and encouraging. I trust her like I’ve known her my entire life.

I absolutely love letting people in for this reason: I believe the universe gives you what you need when you need it; it just takes a keen eye to notice this phenomenon (and a belief in something other than coincidence).

I think that letting people – all sorts of people – make an imprint on your heart is an amazing way to spend your life.

The handful of girls that I have carefully curated as my best friends, yes they are my wolf pack or tribe or whatever you want to call them. But they are not my wolf pack by default. They are the result of me loving everybody up that’s come into my life, some long ago and some more recent. I know I’ve really chosen them, and they are most definitely diverse.

 

When it comes to friendship, sometimes keeping one another in each other’s lives is harder than letting each other go. But maybe all we need to do is cherish that carefully curated wolf pack, and send love to the friendships that have come and gone. They weren’t bad friendships; maybe they were just meant for other things.

Friends for a reason, season or lifetime, everybody is invited to my party.

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Recap: Sydney

The only good reason I had to do this was that I had always wanted to.

And I think that’s a good enough reason to do just about anything.

Stopping and staring every twenty feet, knowing my camera will never do it justice but trying anyways, the coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi continues to make me stand still in awe. Usually when you see something this beautiful you’re a tourist with a camera who snaps a photo and then leaves. But this gets to be my backyard for months on end. If all I ever saw of Australia was this, I’d be happy.

It makes me feel small, alive, and free.

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Watching the surfers catch and crash into waves reminds me of an important lesson, one I hear often but rarely see in action.

Surfers can’t be afraid to fall. And they also can’t be worried about “looking good,” or being perfect every time. They paddle out there for what I imagine is just the joy of it. They fall over and over and over, or miss wave after wave. Then once and awhile they catch one and ride it out, making it look easy. I often find myself holding my breath for them as if I’m the one on the board. I could watch them all day long, thinking about how okay it is to crash and then try again.

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This wasn’t a well thought out plan. I didn’t have a big why behind moving away for a year. The only good reason I had to do this was that I had always wanted to.

And I think that’s a good enough reason to do just about anything.

“I live somewhere I can wear shorts all year round.” I had written that down a few times over the years while making a list of life goals, not knowing how or when or why. I just knew I’d love to live by the sea.

Well they lied – you cannot wear shorts all year round in Sydney. But I love it anyways. Having traveled a handful of times in my twenties, I knew that I still wanted to experience actually living somewhere new, starting from scratch, having no idea where I was headed. The how and the when seemed to figure themselves out. Being here now feels serendipitous, like I’ve landed somewhere I belong.

Australia and I just jive.

 

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Me crushing hard on the Central Coast, my first day in Australia. 

 

Not that moving to a new city doesn’t have its growing pains. I’ve also had to be quite a bitch a couple of times, and though I don’t like being that person and it definitely doesn’t come naturally, they were also proud moments of adulthood. It’s kind of comforting knowing that I can stand on my own two feet, even if most of the time I don’t have to.

Thank you to Australia’s terrible customer service and shitty work ethic for teaching me this valuable lesson!

Which is also probably why I like the place so much. The word “hustle” isn’t glorified here whatsoever. I can say with certainty that there is a better work-life balance here, with “life” being of higher priority.

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I haven’t done very much besides walk a lot of kilometers and watch the surfers, but if this trip ended tomorrow I would be filled up completely. I think all I really wanted was space and ocean breezes and to be reminded of how beautiful the world is, and also that I don’t have to take adulthood so seriously.

Crash, coast, paddle back out; you don’t have to get it right every time.

But The Astrologer Said

But The Astrologer Said

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Once upon a time, not very long ago in the grand scheme of things, I was curious about how the next decade was going to unfold. So I had my astrology chart read. I had always been a little freaked out at the thought of going to a psychic or tarot card reader; astrology always seemed a little more up in the air, and therefore, up for debate. If an astrologist told me I was destined for three marriages, I would think, “Highly unlikely”. But if a psychic predicted a similar fate, it would completely mind-fuck me to the point that I would probably say yes to the first loser who proposed just to get the ball rolling.

My astrology forecast predicted that at twenty-eight, everything was going to fall into place and life was going to be freakin fantastic. For the rest of my twenties, I anticipated the awesome life that awaited me. And, in astrology’s defense, I can confidently say that in my 28th year of living on earth, everything did in fact fall into place. From a dream job to a dream man, this girl had it made. Goals achieved, single status eliminated, words published, and new friends made, I really did have an epic year.

If you’re a yogi or self-helpery junkie, you’ll likely have learned (theoretically anyways) that clinging to things causes suffering. If you’re a big dater, you’ve also likely learned that any form of ‘clinging’ will cause the person you’re obsessed with to promptly run the other way. Usually in the form of “ghosting” because most of us are cowards. In short, becoming too attached to any particular job, person, thing or fantasy is usually a quick road to disappointment.

You’ve got to muster up some flexibility if you’re looking for lasting happiness.

Almost one year later, I could be choosing to curse the cosmos, wondering why they didn’t specify that “everything falling into place” actually meant “everything will fall into place for about ten months and then good luck”.

It’s not as if everything in my life has blown up, it’s just going in a completely different direction than I could have expected, and I’m the one making the decisions here.

If you suffer from a feeling of panic whenever everything is amazing because you think, “OMG I’m happy; it’s going to go away,” I can relate. There seems to be a delicate balance of reveling in your happiness, and not clinging to the circumstances of such happiness for fear that it will disappear.

When everything that was “in place” started to feel off, it was tempting for me to want to freeze and think that no, this is it, this is how my life has to stay. Job, man, condo, life. STAY PUT.

But that’s not how she goes. They say that the only thing constant in life is change, and as much as I’ve loved my astrologically predicted happiness of 28, I know better than to think that happiness and fulfillment lie in only one set of circumstances.

I’ll save the reminiscing for another time, maybe when this decade actually does come to a close. Surely I’ll feel like a big wrap-up will be in order. In the meantime, I have a whole other year to do the reckless and immature things that one day I will justify by saying, “I was in my twenties, I didn’t know any better …” #lies

If it is all up to us, then I’ve managed to ensure that this year will be pretty rad too, even though everything that made 28 so great is looking pretty wobbly at the moment. When I scribbled down in my daytimer under my birthday, “Do something spontaneous to end your twenties,” I didn’t quite have moving continents in mind – I was thinking more like get drunk and sing karaoke or fly to Vegas on a whim.

If all of this is preordained by the cosmos, and if tarot card readers and psychics really do know what’s up, I guess I can say that I’ve been impressed with their work so far and I might pay one a visit to see what’s next.

Or I’ll just decide for myself.

In summary: Let it in, be happy, let it go, be happy again.

Blind Faith

“I really admire your blind trust in the universe,” said a friend I was with Saturday night.

She meant it, though the words themselves don’t pack much punch, the look in her eyes and how she said it definitely did. I laughed and took a sip of the bourbon that I couldn’t afford.

Indeed, many of the decisions I’ve made recently, and in the far away past, probably look quite blind from the outsiders looking in.

I don’t know that we ever get to an age where we have to make less choices, but right now there seems to be a lot. And they all feel BIG. And detrimental. And…important.

The older I get, the more I can start to weave together the impact even the tiniest of choices can have. To say yes to that date and no to another, to break up or stay together, to say yes to that job and no to that one. 

To walk away from something or someone with no certainty that something greater is around the corner.

It’s hella scary.

Choices, of any kind, used to paralyze me. I’m that person who has to order last at brunch. First I can’t decide if I want sweet or savory, the classic breakfast dilemma. Then, just when I think the painful decision process is over:

“How would you like your eggs done?”

UGH.

A trivial decision yes, but how you behave at OJs on Sunday afternoon is likely very similar to how you behave elsewhere. Consider that how you do anything is how you do everything.

I read this “motivational” quote by some guy named Michael Josephson: “The choices you make in your life will make your life. Choose wisely.”

That didn’t motivate me Michael; it stressed me the fuck out.

I feel very lucky to have grown up in this generation where our choices seem endless. We’ve thrown the straight and narrow out the door. We are no longer looked at funny if we’re 25 and without child. Reinventing ourselves five times before our 30th birthday and having numerous careers is totally cool.

But is anyone else feeling overwhelmed?

I used to have this deep rooted fear of aging. And not the getting wrinkles kind of fear. It was more of a, “I’m running out of time” kind of fear. That, coupled with the fact that there are lot of things on my bucket list, was causing a lot of stress. As if I had to get it all crossed off, like, now.

To know which impulses to follow, and to know when it’s time to pull the trigger. To know which ideas still need time to blossom, and which you should just go for. To know when changing your mind is just that, or when it’s actually just giving up when you might be three feet from gold.

The tug at your heart, the impulsive decisions, the well thought out plans. When to choose and when to sit on it.

I may have written about this before, or I may have just uttered this lesson to friends and colleagues, but here’s a teaching from a friend and mentor that changed everything for me, and is likely the reason why it looks like I have blind trust.

I assure you, it’s not blind.

We always think that it’s about whether we choose A or B, but the most important thing, and the thing that actually propels our lives forward, is making a decision.

Mind not blown? Consider this: That place of indecision sucks. Wavering back and forth between moving, quitting a job, or leaving a relationship, is so much worse than just making the decision and pulling the trigger.

In Edwene Gaines’ Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, Maxwell Maltz says, “A step in the wrong direction is better than staying on the spot all our life. Once you’re moving forward you can correct your course as you go. Your automatic guidance system cannot guide you when you’re standing still.” (p.38)

So, just go out there and choose, and trust that you’ll be able to course correct.

And trust that you’ll get what you need one way or another.

Last Friday night I was having coffee with an old friend at a quiet cafe. One way to look at it is we were discussing our latest choices. Choices like: sleeping with guys you know deep down are fuck boi’s, moving cities, and quitting jobs. Giving things up for new experiences, or giving things up for one night of fun.

Mid conversation an older man came up to our table with two plates, a dessert for each of us.

He said, “These are for you. I have 5 daughters and you two sitting here chatting reminded me of them and how much I miss them.”

Hopefully he didn’t hear the details of our conversation, for his sake.

His sincerity took away any initial reaction I had that screamed, “Don’t take treats from strangers!”

Then he said, “The world is good to us, it’s not always as bad as they make it seem.” 

I think the difference between reckless blind trust and the kind of faith my girlfriend and I were talking about this weekend, lies in the difference between being impulsive (which has its place) and having your eyes wide open. When you know yourself well enough and have your eyes (and heart) open, making those choices gets a little easier. You don’t get attached to one outcome over another. You trust that the world will be good to you, because your eyes are open to all the ways that it already is.

High School Reunion

Published in Branded Magazine

IT HAD COME TIME TO ATTEND MY 10 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.

How did I get here? I still remember what I wore on my first day of university. And didn’t I just move out?

I have to remind myself that I’ve had, like, six boyfriends, seven roommates, and it’s already been five years since I finished university. On a sunny afternoon in June of 2005, everyone warned me, “Don’t wish time away; it’s going to fly.” I was in my gown with too much eyeliner on and too platinum of hair, thinking only about after-grad and not much else.

Well, as expected, they were right.

I wish I had a hilarious reunion story about running into an old crush that had rejected my 15-year-old self only to wind up being one of those guys who ‘used to be hot.’ We all know those people who peaked in high school.

But I don’t have a story like that because I didn’t go. I don’t even know when it was, but I decided I would be busy that night.

Nevertheless, having been free from the doors of my high school for an entire decade, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I’ve done and haven’t done since. In reminiscing, I became aware of the lessons that I’m really happy I stumbled upon. Though some of them involved a lot of growing pains, they have been instrumental in shaping the pretend fully functioning adult I am today.

10 Things I Learned in the Last 10:

1. There are many unconventional ways to make money. For a long time I felt judged for not taking a traditional career path, knowing that trying to justify my choices was futile. Yet I spent the majority of this summer working from my cabin. Never had I thought that I could design a schedule and a life that allowed me so much flexibility. It doesn’t have to be 9-5.

2. I remember hearing these lyrics for the first time and knowing exactly who I would dedicate them to: Ive got some friends,some that I hardly know, but weve had some times I wouldnt trade for the world.” Swing Life Away Rise Against

They reminded me of those restless souls that I stumbled upon while backpacking SE Asia, the standard twenty-two year old thing to do.

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Traveling is a better teacher, self-discovery method, and roaring good time than you can imagine. Short trips or big trips, it’s worth every penny.

3. You’re going to offend people— it doesn’t make you a bad person. You are a good friend whether you say yes or no to going out for drinks. And anyone who is up to anything in this world is going to piss some people off.

There’s bound to be someone that thinks of you when “Bad Blood” comes on. Speaking of Taylor Swift lyrics…

4. a) Dating is hard. 

4. b) The grass is never greener. All you want is a boyfriend/girlfriend until you’re fighting with them about their ex, or what Netflix series to start. When you’re finally single and free again, the hunt for your next mate commences and the cycle continues.

4. c) Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s. You never know what their relationship is really like – we only post the good stuff, and even the good stuff is filtered.

4. d) GIRLS: Ignore boys who text you after 10 p.m. BOYS: If she doesn’t text you when she’s drunk, she’s not that into you.

5. Write things down. I first started writing down my goals when I was 23. Five years later, I am living the exact life that I envisioned. It’s freaky. Now I write down ridiculous unlikely things just to test out my manifesting powers.

But in all seriousness, you really are a powerful creator. Just decide, write it down, and take a tiny step in the right direction.

6. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. I’ve learned this lesson about 7,345 times.

6 b) What classifies as binge drinking is really not that much, and you’re probably going to have to lie to your doctor.

7. McDonald’s will never fill you up.

8. You will finally understand why your mother always bitched at you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher—especially if you end up with a messy roommate.

9. At some point you will realize that you are either wearing, or have eaten, all of your money. You will then proceed to scribble down a ‘budget’ that you’ll follow for a day and a half. Nothing will change.

10. Dating will seem like the most complicated thing in the world, until you’ve met someone great. Then friendships will take the cake for the thing that drains energy out of you. That is, if you let them. Relationships are tricky, whether they are romantic or not. The best advice I’ve ever been given is to speak up when something is bothering you, and to say what you’re really trying to say—but say it now, not three days or three years down the road.

And this:

One day, whether you are 14, 28 or 65 you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.” –Beau Taplin, The Awful Truth.

That good old saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” is true. And it’s okay. We play different roles in each other’s lives. Sometimes we are cheerleaders from afar as we watch one another conquer goals via social media. Sometimes we are not much more than drinking buddies, an occasional therapist, or a shoulder to sob on at 2:30 a.m. outside of a bar. And sometimes we even play the villain.

Overall, the last decade seems to have been a trial in learning to chase after what we want, while simultaneously learning to let things go. As much effort as this life requires, it needs to be matched with an acceptance and willingness to roll with the punches.

To the next 10.

I have to admit that the closer I get to 30, the less scary it seems. I imagine it to be a time where I’ll laugh at my twenty-something self and her petty problems, finally have a career figured out that seamlessly weaves together my passions that pays triple what I make now, and of course, eat salads every day.

I know, dream on.

I can only hope that the approaching dirty thirties have some great times in store. Until then, I will bask in the knowledge that the last 10 years have brought, and of course, continue to lie to my doctor about how many ounces of alcohol I consume on a weekly basis. 

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