How do I read all of the books?

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This afternoon, I am sitting in the library stacks overlooking a dark and stormy sky out east. I can’t quite tell if it is raining yet here – my eyes are playing tricks on me. My mind can’t seem to calm down. I have so many ideas and lines of thought that seem interesting that I want to follow, but I’m having trouble setting an order to them all and deciding on a timeline. To rush or not to rush? Does time even matter? How about I just sit down and read forever?

I’ve been focusing a lot on my research this summer, and though at times it has been quite challenging, the reward of reading has been so full. I’ve been thinking a lot about all sorts of things this summer – social progress and objectification of women and the Israel/Gaza conflict and the whole schlep of negative news that fills my Twitter feed every morning. I’ve had to resist taking on personal campaigns to end apps that objectify women, and hold off on re-watching all of The West Wing just because “it inspires me.” I’ve accepted that there isn’t really a lot of method to the mayhem of my mind, that these thoughts and inquiries will always be there, flowing around one another in some sort of spiral of passion and emotion and achievement. Accepting it or not, though, I am still struggling with this compulsion I have to check out every book that is even slightly interesting to me because… well, I can only read so fast.

And we’re not even talking about fiction books. Books that you read because it is summer and summer is for the pool (right?) and lounging (um, mine hasn’t really looked that way?) and “summer fiction” (does Karl Marx count?).

Yesterday was the first night in a long, long time that I didn’t have a party to plan or an event to manage or a project to work on after I got home from school. I just put my pencil down when I finished my homework, and went on a walk with my husband. It felt really weird and strange to both of us because, even though we say it is the pace we want to live our lives at, we don’t really ever run at that speed. There is always a to-do list or a calendar in front of us because that is how we control our anxiety as a couple. It’s not very healthy so hey, we’re trying our best.

So here I sit. I don’t have homework tonight so WHAT DO I DO? Do I read that book my professor urged me to read…even though I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks? Or do I read that book on theory so that I can feel like I actually know what I am talking about in the class I’m TA’ing next semester? Or do I read that book by my mentor’s mentor… so that I can feel close to him now that he is gone forever? Or how about the one billion other thoughts that are floating around in my mind? OHMYGOD how do I fill the time?

I’m guessing the answer has something to do with being present. It sounds like there are birds chirping in the stacks above my head, and I’m guessing it’s not unlikely that there is a nest up there, really high, since this building was constructed by the WPA in the ’30s. And the sky is split in this sort of cotton candy purpe/blue/purple way, which is really dreamy instead of ominous. And even though I can’t calm my inattentive mind, I know that the root of all of this instability is that I am finally doing something that I LOVE and I am so excited about it. I’m thankful, is what I’m trying to say.

I’m going to try and sit with that for awhile. XO.


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Adventures in Montana

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Last Thursday, my family and I all met up at Denver International Airport and flew up to northwestern Montana for the weekend. We went to visit the town that my dad grew up in! My dad has been wanting to take this trip for years, and we finally, finally made it happen. My aunt (my dad’s sister) and my cousin came along for the ride, and we had an absolutely amazing time.

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First of all, Montana is absolutely breathtaking. None of us could get over how beautiful it was. Every view at the window, we were constantly saying, “Oh did you see that?!” and “Wowwww…” Even when we finally rolled into our rental house around 10:30pm, and it was still light out (!), we didn’t stop. How cute is this house?! It’s so cozy looking, especially with that warm evening light beckoning us in through the kitchen windows.

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We spent lazy mornings reading the paper, talking about books we’ve been reading, and exploring the grounds. My dad gave my sweet husband some tips on fishing, and they practiced casting for awhile. We all sank deep into that relaxing mode where you suddenly realize how tired you have been back home, and three hour naps become a part of your daily routine.

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My sister filmed and photographed our entire weekend. She’s an incredible and inventive artist, and I love seeing how passionate she is for visual art. She is going to put together a video for the weekend, and I’m really excited to see it!

Exploring was high on our list. We knew we wanted to go to the town festival, but to fill up the rest of the time, my dad just drove us around and showed us his favorite spots and places where he made a lot of memories. We saw the house he grew up in, the apartment his sisters shared after they graduated from high school, and the shops that my grandparents and my uncle owned in town. Also on the docket was the high school, his fishing spots, and main street (which they called “the gut”) where they’d all cruise on Friday nights. So American Graffiti

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We stopped in at the local bakery where a family friend still bakes (he’s 79!) after all these years. His family and my dad’s family moved from Colorado to Montana to Colorado together. Do people still do that anymore? Isn’t that amazing? This fantastic baker man would knock your socks off. For real, his stuff is amazing. He used to own a bakery right outside of Boulder that my parents would take me to when I was really little. I don’t remember much, except my aunt working in the back and the aluminum Dole juice cans they’d get me, but the minute I walked into this Montana shop and smelled those donuts, I was sent back. I kept telling my dad, “This donut smells like my childhood.” I don’t think he got it, but it did! I had a chocolate raised donut and an apple fritter for good measure.

We had to get up early, my dad, my aunt and my cousin, to go and see our baker friend before he left (since bakers work in the wee hours of the morning!). We talked (well, my cousin and I listened) about the old times, about the old bakeries they worked in, about my grandmother and my grandfather and the baker man’s kids who were my dad’s childhood friends. I loved hearing my grandparents talked about so much. We don’t talk about them much anymore, now that they’ve been gone for nearly 15 years. And I left the shop satisfied, but also, I left really missing them. I’m more aware than ever that these times right now are the times to get the stories out of my parents and my aunts and uncles, and to find a way to hold on to them and preserve them for generations – I feel compelled.

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Just in case you’re wondering where I get my crazy from… My dad will hate this photo, but I just thought you needed to know that my weirdness is genetic and I am my father’s daughter.

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See?

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Here’s our crew (minus my cousin who was taking the picture). We took one of all of us with the timer, but the lighting was awful. I could not get that Montana light, all 15+ hours of it, figured out. But we had the best time being together. You’d think after 10 years of not traveling together, we’d be strangling each other by the end of our three day trek. And there might have been a desire to, but we had a really, really great time together.

I will never forget this trip. Especially the time with my aunt and my cousin, and especially hearing my dad’s stories. I know that I’ll go back someday, but this trip will always hold a special place in my heart. God has written such an incredible story, and the part that I get to play in it, my subplot (to use author Don Miller’s words), is really beautiful. My family has it’s flaws, just like every family does. But we love each other, and we’re doing the best we can. It’s really inspiring to connect with the past, to experience how blessed we are at present, and then look forward to our future with hope.

I wonder where we’ll travel to next year!

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Outfit details:

Plaid shirt by Madewell (similar and on sale!)

Grey shirt by Madewell (on sale!)

Raybans from Nordstrom

Boots by Teva

Jeans from StitchFix

Fleece by Patagonia

Gold earrings by Gorjana from StitchFix


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Off to Montana

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Good morning from Montana!

Me and the family are spending a long weekend in northern Montana in the town where my dad grew up. I can’t believe we have never been here before. This trip is a long time coming. From 4th to 11th grade, these were his stomping grounds, and it’s truly a special place.  He cried when we drove in. I’m looking forward to hearing his stories, making pilgrimages to my grandparent’s old house and the school and the town’s main drag (“the gut”), as well as meeting some of his friends.

It’s also been awesome to be with the family. I don’t think that I’ve traveled with my family, my whole family, in 10 years! It’s been way too long. My dad is making pancakes right now, using my grandpa’s recipe, and my sister is behind the camera (her usual place) filming the goings-on. My cousin and my aunt are in other room, talking about books and movies and reading the town newspaper. My mom is upstairs relaxing, and Spencer’s exploring outside (in the rain). And I’m in the kitchen, which is filled with light, typing away. Everyone is content. After so much hardship and challenge in the last few years, there is an ease in the house right now that is such a gift. It feels like Christmas morning.

I don’t even know what is on the agenda today (aren’t those the best days?). But I’ll check back in soon. In the meantime, make sure to follow along on Instagram @anneiam. XO.

 


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Currently / 6.24.14

 

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READING

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. This summer, I am working as a research assistant for one of my professors, and I’m studying colonial Massachusetts. It’s been so awesome, especially since I am a HUGE nerd/fan for colonial American history, and most definitely my second home of Massachusetts. I’ve honestly been learning so much. It’s been really time consuming, but I’ve been loving every minute of it. Basically, I read a book and then write a summary of it for my professor, including themes I think he should consider and chapters I recommend that he read. I’m also learning a lot about what historical sociology looks like. There are times when I can’t really separate history from sociology, but that is why I’m doing this assistantship. To learn! It’s been taking a lot of humility to accept that I don’t always know everything or that I can’t always get full comprehension of these really dense academic books, but it’s good for the soul, that’s for sure.

LISTENING TO

A lot of country music. This may sound super cheesy, but I am a HUGE fan of the CW show Hart of Dixie and the soundtrack is awesome. Plus, living outside of town in a rural area of Colorado has made me super daydreamy for summer, country nights. Some of the music is terrible, but I’ve been saving my favorites to this spotify playlist.

DREAMING ABOUT

Montana. We are going up to northern Montana this weekend to visit the town where my dad grew up. My sister and I have never been there, and it holds such a special place in my dad’s heart. He is really looking forward to it, and I’m really excited to hear his stories and see him in his element. My family hasn’t taken a family vacation in 8 years, too. It’s kind of crazy to think about. I think that this will be good for us. It will be kinda podunky but it will be nice to have some peace and quiet… right? Hah, let’s hope so. I plan on reading a lot, and spending time with my aunt (who is also coming, and who I want to teach how to play Settlers of Catan). We are also going fishing, which will be interesting to say the least! I plan on blogging about it as we’re up there, so stay tuned!

CONSIDERING

What my life will look like in the next few years. With school, an upcoming PhD, planning for children… it all seems like a lot to figure out. I know that the best thing we can do is stay flexible, but it is so all really important and meaningful, and therefore, pressure-filled. I am realizing that I am not really at an age where I can fly by the seat of my pants anymore. At least, I don’t want to do that anymore. Adventure and spontaneity will always be a part of my life, but I’m ready to get serious with my career and with our family goals and with my passions. There is a lot swirling around in my brain, especially considering how much different life could look in a year. We shall see!

EATING

Hibiscus Mint popsicles by GoodPop. OH. MY. GOSH. Seriously, you guys. These things are incredible. Also, the strawberry lemonade ones are amazing. You have to try them, if you can find them at your local Whole Foods.

LOVING

Summer. Swimming in the early morning. Friday nights by the fire with our friends. The Anne of Green Gables series. HBO’s The Newsroom. West Elm sheets. Stitch Fix. Planning for my cousin’s baby shower.

XO


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Documentary Films I’ve Been Loving

Hey guys! I thought I’d check in on this beautiful Saturday morning with a fun post about some documentary films that I’ve been LOVING lately. I’m currently on a bit of a break from my crazy school schedule, and have been loving having more time to write and read FOR FUN and watch good TV and movies. Some of these documentaries have even changed my life. No, for real. You’ll see. Check ‘em out!

About five years ago, I fell in love with wine. I fell hard, my friends. I watched a little indie film (although, how indie can a film be when it stars Captain Kirk?) called Bottleshock, and just loved the romance with wine. All I needed to hear was Alan Rickman quote Galileo while they showed sweeping ariel views of Sonoma Valley and I was hooked. Spencer and I have been to the Napa Valley twice in the last five years since, we’ve read countless books about wine, and I don’t really care how many of my friends think I’m obsessed. I. Love. Wine.

Somm is a fantastic documentary about the difficult journey to becoming a Master Sommelier. They’re even more obsessed then I am, and I love it. This film is inspiring and funny and sad and hope-filled. It’s on Netflix now. Go watch it with a good bottle of wine.

 

Blackfish. Have you seen it? At first I didn’t want to. Honestly, I thought it’d scare me. But my neighbor raved and raved about it, so finally we sat down one morning and turned it on. Oh. My. Gosh, you guys. This film will open your eyes. I’m sure there are those who, like any documentary, will say that it is one sided and not fair to Seaworld. Honestly, I used to be one of those people who loved Shamu, and loved Seaworld. But there is no way that I will ever do anything to support that company ever again. I cringe when I even see their logo. The psychological damage that these highly-intelligent, highly-creative and amazing animals go through when they are held in captivity in small tanks, just to make a buck… I mean, it’s terrible. How hard would it be to be a living being, so smart, so inspiring and incredible, and not be able to communicate your terror and emotional frustration? That’s what these whales are experiencing. Obviously, I’m emotional and angry about it – but this film also teaches you so much about Orca whales and the beauty of nature. This is definitely a must watch.

(Also, since Blackfish was released in 2013, Seaworld’s visitor numbers have dropped drastically, and their stock prices have tanked. State and national legislators are working towards making holding whales in captivity illegal. So this is truly a documentary that is making waves… And I just realized how many puns are in this paragraph. Not intentional)

 

So Food, Inc. is another film that I didn’t want to see. Obviously, I avoided it for about 6 years. I was worried that it would make my already dysfunctional relationship with food even more dysfunctional. It did the opposite, you guys. It empowered me in the most amazing way! First of all, I trust this film. Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan are two authors that I trust and respect immensely. Secondly, this film shows the alternatives to the industrial food monster from different angles – there are the small, independent farmers that do not want to have anything to do with big corporations like Walmart, and then there are organic companies like Stonyfield Farms who want to work with capitalism and large corporations to try and defeat the giant. It’s nice to get two perspectives, you know? But the fact of the matter is that the way we eat in America has changed drastically in the last 100 years, and not for the better. We want our food faster and cheaper, but we pay a price for that. We’re sicker for it. This film empowered me – it made me realize that I have tremendous influence as a consumer. I can choose where I buy my meat and my vegetables, I can prioritize local foods, and I can say NO to processed foods at the supermarket. And not only will I be healthier, but by joining the movement for healthier food, we can make more of a difference in what the manufacturers produce.

I could go on and on about this film. And maybe I will :) But you have to go watch it!

All these films are on Netflix! And by the way, wouldn’t making a documentary be kind of fun? I’ve been thinking about what I would make a documentary about. What about you? What would you make a documentary film about? And have you seen these films? What did you think? XO.


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The Map Is Not The Territory

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Last night, I found out that my college sociology professor and beloved mentor, Dr. H, passed away a few days ago. It is such a tragic loss.

In the last 12 hours, I’ve talked with many people I went to college with. Some people I talk to everyday, others I haven’t spoken with in years. But we’ve all been brought together in this hard time – which I think is such a testament to his life. He brought people together. He taught us to love people – the marginalized, the scrutinized, the invisible.

It’s hard to move forward in times like this. We’re searching for answers, most of them to the question Why?, and we’re just not finding ones that truly satiate.

I was looking through my old sociology notebooks last night before I went to bed. I’ve consciously saved and treasured them all these years, knowing that they’d be a guide for me in the future, whether I pursued sociology or not. They’re filled with scratchy notes that are hardly legible because I had to write so fast to keep up with him. There are hard questions written in the margins. There are reminders written in huge letters and emboldened with ink: Grapple with what you learn! The class in itself keeps individuals from seeing their commonalities! This is one of my favorites, Pursue knowledge, pursue learning, and be an intelligent Christian! And maybe the most important thought: We are that which we study.

In all of his classes, he always started with the three assumptions of sociology. They are:

1. There is a dialectical relationship between an individual and society.

2. We are all equal, but we are not the same.

3. The map is not the territory.

There were so, so many conversations between me and my friends over the years as we went through as many courses of his we could get our hands on about #3. It is hard to understand, and I ended up with the job of explaining it to a lot of them. Dr. H had asked me to be his TA, and even though I had passed (hindsight can be a bitter pill to swallow, can’t it?), I became a sort of unofficial one to friends and fellow students.

This principle that the map is not the territory means that no individual has access to the whole of society or what they experience. If we drew a map of the US, or of the world, we’d all start in different places – the places that we are most familiar with, with where we belong. We relate, not to reality, but to our perception of reality. And not everyone’s perception is the same. Reality is recorded and translated, and it is these perspectives that sociologists are interested in. We want a mosaic of realities.

So when you’re someone who is pursuing truth, this can be troublesome. If (if) we have limited access to the truth, then what are Christians supposed to do? Without 100% affirmation that what we believe is real, we are kind of, all of the sudden, transformed into an array of sinking Peter’s, our doubt weighing us down, deep into the ocean, like cement blocks.

Truth – it is infinitely more complex than we can fathom. We will never be fully able to grasp it in it’s wholeness, and for me, this is where faith comes in. We can ask as many questions as we can possibly think of in our lifetime. We can understand, even in the smallest of ways, from a collective perspective, more maps so that we can better understand the territory. And from there, serve and love the people who live in different territories with different maps.

Dr. H loved learning about all of our maps. He was a true collector. He was always there with an open door and an open mind to wrestle through the tough questions, to compassionately guide us when we were blasé and acting like we didn’t care, to be one of our greatest advocates. I didn’t truly understand his reality, nor him mine, but the real truth that comes out of all of this, out of our interaction, his life and now death, is this: loving others is our greatest task.

As he said himself in an email to a classmate, “Remember, the most important thing we can do when discussing issues related to social justice is re-present the love of Christ. Only the Almighty has the full answers; we do the best we can with what we’ve been given — and no matter what side of the issue we’re on, it is a lot more complex than any of us could ever fathom…”

There has been a lot of death in my life recently, but despite all of this, I’ve got so much to look forward to. A hard workout this morning with my trainer, Ali. A sociology exam whose ass I’m going to kick. A research assistantship this summer, for which I received a grant. House projects, vacations with the family, a PhD (in like, 10 years). It’s hard to imagine not sharing that last part with Dr. H, though. We all experience loss, we move forward in life, and we find new mentors, but I always thought he’d be there when I got my doctoral hood and my own office and my own students. I always thought that he’d sneak into one of my classes when I was teaching, to ask the tough questions just to say, in a snarky way, that we was proud of me. I always thought we’d have coffee on my visits to Boston.

I thought we had more time.

I am in graduate school now because of him. I am becoming a sociologist because of him. I am a free thinking global citizen who seeks truth and respect in this increasingly convoluted and frightening world. Because of him. He changed my life.

And I guess it’s up to me to decide whether or not I want to pick up the torch and teach like he taught. I don’t think that I would have said I was ready if he’d walked up to me with it. But I don’t have a choice now. There it lays, the torch of knowledge and grace and passion and hope. I have to pick it up.

I want to share a few words with you all that Dr. H shared with me when I was going through a tough time a few years ago. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

“Failure is not the end of the world, it is the beginning of understanding and knowledge. People who love us will not be disappointed by our failures, they are more likely to want to help us review the experience, process it and help us in moving on from it. The anxiety will only become less the more you engage these opportunities. There is wisdom in all of our experience, and most people say they learn more from their failures than from their successes… Go figure. However, if we are so afraid of failure that we never take any risks, we never gain this wisdom. And while this lack of risk-taking is comforting in the moment, it is extremely frustrating, as you have pointed out, to look back and say to yourself ‘I should have tried.’ Finally, Anne, I believe you know all these things– and you also know there are a lot of people out there who think you’re really smart and capable. That’s not the issue. Instead of knowing you’re smart and capable, you have to believe it. Nobody else can make you believe it. You have to prove it to yourself, and that means taking a risk… So Anne, I hope this helps. If you choose not to accept this challenge, others will present themselves. However, know that with every risk we avoid, taking the next one becomes even more challenging… So Anne, good luck, and let me know what you decide to do… blessings, dr. H.”


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Real what?! Real Simple!!

First off, I just want to say “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!” to so many of you who commented, emailed, tweeted, etc… in response to my last post. Your encouragement and your sweet thoughts and words are such gifts to me. What started as a session where I could vent and let off some steam turned into a “me too” moment that I’m so grateful for. Isn’t it the best feeling to know that you’re not alone? I think so.

Since that post, and because of your overwhelming support, I have been feeling so much more inspired to write these past few days. I’ve started a few close-to-my-heart posts that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. I think that Anne the Adventurer is evolving more into a blog focused on writing and becoming your authentic self than it is about products or DIYs or what not. Not that I won’t be sharing any more posts like that, but maybe they’ll be a bit less frequent.

It’s so funny that I’ve been thinking that, though, because yesterday, I was randomly surfing the web, clicking around on Homefries and A Beautiful Mess, when I saw a notification come through on my MacBook Air saying that I had been mentioned in a tweet. I quickly read “Our pin of the day is… DIY bulletin board…” and that’s all I could make sense of before the notification disappeared. I also caught a glimpse of the words Real Simple. Caught off guard, I quickly checked my email, thinking that I had been played or that some fake Real Simple account had tweeted me. This was not the case.

The actual Real Simple Magazine (REAL FREAKING SIMPLE, PEOPLE!) tweeted out yesterday afternoon that my DIY Chevron Bulletin Board was their pin of the day on Pinterest. What the what?! Are you freaking kidding me?!

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I had one of those moments where I was looking around in my empty house for someone to show, pointing frantically and speechlessly at the screen. I quickly called my girl Kim of Oh, Sweet Joy! and when she didn’t answer, sent out a storm of text messages to her, as well as Lauren, Natalie, Rebecca, the parents, anyone I could think of. “OMG REAL SIMPLE MAG JUST TWEETED ONE OF MY POSTS AS THEIR PIN OF THE DAY!!!” We were all freaking out. And then snarky Miss Lauren said, “Maybe that’s a sign to blog more.” Um, yeah, haha.

So if you didn’t see my freak out on the Anne the Adventurer Facebook page, or my “Just play it cool” Twitter stance – here’s the post to share the good news. Now let’s all stop for a minute and have a dance party to this song to celebrate.

To top it all off, I got my copy of my alma mater’s college magazine in the mail today. I’m featured as one of their 50 Under 50 alumni who are doing interesting and inspiring things with their lives. I am so honored to be included on a list of so many talented people.

I’m feeling really loved today, and just wanted to say thank you. To all you awesome readers, to my bloggy friends, to my friends and fam. This girl feels pretty special. XO.


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Disenchantment with Blogging

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Let’s just jump right in, shall we? Lately, I’ve been receiving emails and comments on Instagram from you guys asking where I am and what I’m up to.  The truth of the matter is that I have been very disenchanted with blogging. Ever since Alt Summit, I have been very wary of blogs, of blogs that work with companies, and even the people behind the blogs. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions about the values of the people who are behind the blogs I read or know a lot about, and about the limits of being able to know their values because I don’t know them personally. I only know what information is presented.

The same is true with me, and this blog. What information do I present to all of you? What information do I deem acceptable to put forward into the universe for all to see and know? What are my values, and do you all know of them? The fact of the matter is that you don’t know me fully, nor do you know all my values. I’m sure from everything I’ve read, the times I’ve been the most honest, that you can take a guess at some of my thoughts on certain topics in today’s world. But for the most part I, like a lot of other blogs, remain an enigma of sorts.

And I don’t know how comfortable I feel with that. I am a deeply relational person. When I am told by Blogger A, whom I’ve admired for a long time, that a certain brand is their favorite, that fills some need I have but not all. I’m interested to know about their beauty care products and their favorite recipes and where they buy their baby clothes because those things all matter, or will matter in the future, to me. But the things that matter most – their values about family, social justice, mental health, self-development - I just don’t get the full scope. Often times I’ve felt like I’ve been in a relationship with these bloggers, like they’re my friends. But they’re just not! I don’t know the most important things! And as much as that is aggravating, the rights to privacy and such are totally rational and understandable.

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Those “most important things” – I have been sharing and hearing those values from my friends offline in recent days. I’ve been a lot more intentional about having coffee with a friend or having our new neighbors over for dinner than I have been about blogging and putting together posts. I’m am somewhat sorry for not being around here more, because my relationships with y’all are so valuable to me. But I have been grieving over the idea that we can’t ever really go beyond the surface – it’d be impossible because of the sheer volume of all of you reading, and because it’s just not mentally possible to know and invest in all of you to the depth of which I normally invest in my friends.

Alt Summit was a very superficial experience for me. A lot of the people I met had walls up, like we put up when we’re online. Except we weren’t online, we were standing face to face. I was struck with this very disappointing realization that there are some who just, no matter what, will no let those walls down. It’s like knowing a friend and then having them break up with you for reasons unknown. And maybe this is the crux of all of it: I don’t want any of you to experience that with me.

Here’s a funny story but one that is also poignant: a few weeks ago, I had a terribly painful neck spasm that left me in the hospital and on a lot of Valium for many days following. Spencer and I went to a sidewalk sale at West Elm (my fav store, duh) the next day because no neck spasm was going to keep me from finding a sweet deal on a new chair. I took some of my meds before I left so that the spasm wouldn’t be exacerbated by being out and about, but I didn’t realize the potential for me to run into a reader while I was there. Of course it’s possible that I run into a reader at West Elm. Y’all love West Elm and I do, too. We have that in common. I’ve met many of you at the West Elm events that some of my fav Denver bloggers have hosted in the last year.

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So, there I am, standing awkwardly outside West Elm. One shoulder is higher than the other because my neck is still in spasm, and every now and then, I’d be in a lot of pain and have to hold back the tears. I had no makeup on (not that it matters), and I was just not in any mood to interact with anyone except the person selling me my chair. And a reader came up to me and said, “Hey, I just want to let you know I love your blog.” I had to move my whole body around to see her because I couldn’t turn my head like a normal person. So I’m like the tin man (“Oil can! Oil can!”), moving awkwardly, and I’m in pain and all I can muster is, “Oh, thank you! What’s your name? I’m Anne.” And she goes, “I know. Anne the Adventurer.” Ugh. Duh, of course you know my name. And I don’t remember your name, reader, if you’re reading this post, because I was on drugs for my neck. I think it started with a K. Whenever I meet a reader, I normally freak out. It usually goes something like, “OHMYGOSH, shut up. You don’t know my blog! Hi! Oh my gosh, I’m so flattered. You’re the best. What’s your name? Let’s get coffee or have lunch. I want to know your life. Ahhh!” and then there’s a lot of hugging.

You guys, I don’t want you to be disappointed like I was that we can’t be best friends. I don’t want you to think less of me like I thought/think less of my favorite bloggers who I can’t be best friends with. Because the thing is, it’s not their fault and it’s not mine. It’s the nature of blogging. And if you don’t want to be best friends with me, why are you here? Haha, just kidding ;) Maybe you have this whole thing figured out a lot better than I do. Or maybe you’re cold and heartless. Just kidding again.

This is something I have to work through because I want to write books. And I want to teach and travel around doing public speaking. I want to change the world and people’s lives for the better. I won’t be able to know each and every person, and as much as it feels like a tragedy, I have to figure it out because it’s the truth.

These are all the real life things. This post isn’t the most eloquent. It’s one of those word vomit posts. But it’s valuable because it’s real and honest and hard, even though it’s not so pretty. I think because it’s not so pretty, that makes it all the more valuable. This is a really, really hard challenge. One that I will work through, as will some of you, with the friends whom I share the “most important things” with. I hope that you bear with me. Some of you won’t stick around, and that’s okay. I won’t be hurt. But either way, I want you to know that I love you and am so thankful for all of you. You’re all the best.

Thanks for listening during the radio silence. It helps me not feel so alone.


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Oh heyyyy… Let’s talk about trust.

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Whoah! It’s been weeks!

I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’ve been spending all of my time reading, going to class, writing papers, and just trying to get my brain to shut down so I can sleep for more than an hour (for cryin’ out loud!)… and this blog has fallen to the wayside. It’s almost comical how quickly the tide turned from a post everyday for nearly two months and then… crickets.

The truth of the matter is that I’m really, really trying to figure out how to have balance in my life. I’m a reckless over achiever. I get sucked in, wayyy in to things that are great but that are also not the most important things. Though I have had great moments in life, I don’t think I’ve ever understood balance. I’m usually jumping from one camp to another – school, friends, blogging, health, Spencer, school, friends, blogging, health, blogging, Spencer… and so on and so on. Can you imagine if I added kids to that mix? As much as I admire all my friends who are mothers, I’m not ready to join that camp, too.

Do you think it’s possible to find balance? I look at people like Gwenyth Paltrow and I’m like, How do you have time to run Goop, make movies, support your husband, take care of your kids, and work with Tracy Anderson on shaping a kick-ass body? I’m sure most of you are saying “Nannies” out loud right now, but really? Nannies may do some of the work, like the cleaning or the feeding, but they can’t remove the pressure a person feels to be everything to everyone all the time. Are some people just not wired to feel so much pressure to be perfect? I have a hard time imagining that. I am really starting to believe that we are all playing this terrible comparison game where all of our relationships, even spiritual ones, are transactional. If I am thin, then my friends will like me more. If I put makeup on and dress well everyday, my husband will be happier (because I’m more attractive). If I can run a marathon, my neighbors will be impressed by me (admiration=love… right?). If I read the Bible and go to church and say weak, doubt filled prayers, I’m still “good” in God’s eyes… and on and on and on.

All of this is transactional. Nowhere in these kinds of thoughts is there unconditional love, unconditional grace, unconditional compassion. Do you think most of the relationships in our lives would even exist without these sorts of transactions? I’m thinking yes, but they’d have to be radically changed. And I mean radically.

I’m going to be honest, I treat most people like this. I accept a lot of people into my life by transactional standards. If you dress this or that way, I judge you and will therefore treat you different. How awful is that? And the worst offender in all of this is the way I treat myself. About 99% of the time, I only let myself be happy once the dishes are cleaned (by me, not my husband or else I’ll feel guilty for not working hard enough), once all of my homework and then more is done, once I’ve published a blog post a day, and have worked hard at the gym. Don’t even get me started on food. I’ve set up a code of conduct for myself and any measure of happiness rests on my ability to not only meet but surpass (with flying colors!) that code. Can you relate? I’m guessing you can.

What would the world look like if we deconstructed this relationship system? I think there would be a lot more grace and a lot less stress. A lot more love and a lot less shame. And the big question, how do we do this with ourselves?

The other day, my pastor, quoting Charles Stanley, said, “Submission + humility – worry = relief.”

Submission + humility – worry = relief.

This is an equation I want to investigate further, and I have a suspicion that trust is the key to solving it.

I want to remove the belief that I have that I am in control of everything I do. I believe that God is. You don’t have to agree with me, that’s okay. I’m just thinking out loud. I am not good at submission. With all the adversity women face to be seen as fully equal in society, I struggle to submit before anyone. I like to live my life thinking that I am in control, that I know everything or have the power to learn everything. I like winning arguments, I like being admired, I like being on top. And when I’m not… well, things aren’t so pretty. So the idea of submitting to God, Spirit, the Universe, what have you, and fully recognizing that they are in control, that they know everything, that they are the ones to be admired, honored, worshipped, and that they will always be above me… that’s really tough. But I know that I need to submit and give up control because, truthfully, I just don’t know everything. I am not in control of every outcome, or every interaction with friends, or every paper that is graded by a grumpy professor. The fact is, life will always be unfair and I have to trust that I will be okay, in spite of that fact.

Humility goes hand in hand with this. If I am operating under the assumption that I am better than everyone else or that it’s possible to be in control of every situation I encounter, than I will always fail. The truth of the matter is that there are millions of people, millions, who are smarter than me, stronger than me, richer than me, and more influential than me. If I take the same trust that I used in submitting my life to God and applied it to humility, I know I’d be a happier person. Because trust is the key. What if I operated under the assumption that people were fundamentally interested in love and not hate, in grace and not shame, in compassion and not fear? It’d be a lot easier to be humble and to think of others better than myself if I trusted that their intentions were good, and if not good, then I will still be okay, in spite of that.

Worry. Ugh. I worry all the time. I worry that I’ll die before I get to live my life to the full. I worry that I will suffer with postpartum depression when I decide to have kids. I worry Spencer will get in a car accident. So much worry. Hardly any of it is rational, and none of it is useful. It is all done in another attempt to be in control and to position myself on top so that I can believe, even if the foundations of my beliefs are weak, that I cannot be hurt by anything in the world. I try to predict the future so that I can brace myself for hurt. And that is just no way to live your life. Again, I need to trust that I will be okay, no matter what happens.

I want relief. I want balance. And as much as I hate to admit it, mostly because I’ve built my life around this belief, I need to give up control and hand it over to God. No one can love me as fiercely as God, no one can keep me safe as well as God, no one can pave the path of my life’s journey as well as God. I know that it’s easier to say than to believe, especially in the face of so much tragedy. How can I give up control and hand it to God when I’ve seen so much hurt and pain, when I feel like I’ve lost so much. Well, if I can step down from my shaky, anxiety-filled, unreliable podium, from which I try to rule my life, I will see where God has showed up. In my beautiful house, in my beautiful marriage, in the relationships God has given me after I prayed for years. In every nook and cranny there is proof, for me, that God has showed up and will continue to. And when I remember that, I always feel relief.

Right now, I am stepping down off my unsteady platform and into the cool relief that is trust. Surprisingly, it’s cozier down here than I expected. And I feel the need to be hugged and comforted, which I can finally allow myself to do now that I’m not requiring myself to be removed and perfect and obstinate. If you’re stepping down too, let’s say it together: we need help. Let’s trust that help is available to us, that we can’t do it all, and that we’ll be okay. Unrelenting love is possible, and there are no prerequisites. We just need to ask.


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