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for a minute there, I thought I had COVID-19

Yeah, you read that right. I thought I might have had COVID-19. Here’s the story & how I feel today:

So here’s the deal: May is roommate transition time for many college/grad students. It comes with the territory of living in a house with up to four roommates. There’s jobs to do and life to live even in this crazy global pandemic. 

When my first new roommate needed to move in, it happened. Her parents came and helped and she moved in, no biggie. 

Until a couple days later when her dad started to experience COVID-19 symptoms. 

And a couple days after that when he tested positive. 

Here’s how I felt after receiving the news, in chronological order —

  • optimistic
  • nervous
  • angry
  • guilty
  • terrified
  • anxious
  • impatient
  • guilty
  • bored
  • sad
  • lonely
  • guilty
  • angry
  • frustrated 

repeat, repeat, repeat. 

I wasn’t scared for myself. I’m relatively healthy. I was scared that unknowingly I could have HURT (yes, hurt is the word) others. If I had been a part of spreading this virus throughout my community — knowing I probably could have been more careful. 

After her dad’s positive result, my roommate got tested. Even though she stayed in her room and wore a mask if she ever ventured to fill her water bottle (honestly, she’s a trouper!) — I stayed home, missing work and workouts, to avoid being in places with people until we knew if my new roommate also had covid (and therefore, the rest of us probably did as well) and let me tell you — it sucked. 

Due to Memorial Day Weekend, (and ridiculously slow communication between lab and clinic) we waited over 5 DAYS to get the result. My stomach was in knots. I was angry and lonely and scared (repeat, repeat, repeat). I went on long walks and blasted music to forget the looming feeling. I read a book all day to avoid consuming more media that made me nervous. I cried a lot. I tried to find tasks to fill the time. I watched the entire season of Sweet Magnolias in one day, leaving my bed maybe three times. I watched in frustration that down the block as there were people having a darty on the lawn. I saw stories of other people taking shots at the bars & I thought to myself… I was so careful and yet this is happening to me, when there’s people out there doing that?! It’s not fair. 

And that’s true — none of this is fair. A virus doesn’t care if it’s fair. It’s not fair to people who are being careful. It’s not fair to those who are working on the frontlines and helping to keep us safe. It’s not fair to those who need to return to work. It’s not fair to the people who have lost their jobs. It’s not fair to the seniors. It’s not fair to those who have lost loved ones or can’t be with their loved ones. It’s honestly just not fair… any of it.

But today, after a negative test result and a billion pounds off my shoulders — I can tell you that it would have sucked a whole lot more if I had unintentionally put other people at risk. 

This scare has really set my heart and mind on what I believe is right — wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay 6 feet apart. When able, stay home. When you can’t (for livelihood or sanity) be careful. 

Trust me — you don’t want to feel how I felt. 

And I didn’t even have covid. 


**I’d like to note that my roommate’s dad is feeling better every day and should make a full recovery, thank goodness.

new roomie #2 that moves in next week! she moved things in (with mask and gloves) while we all stayed in our rooms (after disinfecting every inch of our house) and we grabbed this picture through the window haha 🙂
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how I got here: a journey to self love

Sometimes I post little question boxes on Instagram asking for prompts from my followers/friends about what I should write or share about. Then, sometimes, I forget to follow through and write about those things. Oops.

I was scrolling through my archive and found a reply from my friend Alicia nearly a year ago saying “tell us about your journey to self love.”

And today, I’m feeling inspired. Here’s my journey and some key pieces along the way that have helped me evolve into the woman I’m becoming — a woman that’s better than I was yesterday, each and every day.


I want to start by saying I am just like you. I am sitting in my bed in my sweatpants on a rainy Saturday. I have days where I cry in the mirror and I have days where I dance through my neighborhood. I “jump to put jeans on” if you will (such a great lyric by Beyonce, amiright?).

You do not have to take my advice or believe that everything meant for me is meant for you. That’s one thing that I fully acknowledge — we are all on different paths. I’m just telling you a little bit of my journey. (When I use the word ‘journey’ too much I feel like I’m on the Bachelor, ope.)

Your journey may have already started, or maybe you’re at a crossroads and learning how to love yourself is top-of-mind. Whatever your scenario (if it’s like mine or totally different) I want you to know that there is always more love and light and grace to grant ourselves.

*** I also want to be sure to say that I have never hated myself. I know that is a privilege in itself. Even on my darkest days, there has never been hatred in my heart directed at myself. If you are feeling self-hatred, I highly recommend you discuss this with trusted people in your life and/or consult a mental health professional.

The song that just came on my shuffle is so fitting for how I feel right now. If you want to listen along as you read, here it is: Girls Like Me: Martina McBride.

My journey, for all intents and purposes of this blog post, will begin with getting my heart broken.

When I was in my relationship, I think I spent too much time giving love and not nearly enough time loving me. I neglected it. When my relationship ‘ended’, it ended a couple times, off and on, and threw me for a new loop each time… until I finally called it quits for good.

I can look back now and laugh because the breakups got easier each time. By the final time, when I decided to stand my ground, I was slowly beginning to realize that I was deserving of so much more — in every facet of my life. I needed to learn who I was without anyone else. I needed to learn how to just love ME and MY LIFE as is. I was already on the up-and-up (following these steps) and I wasn’t about to be dragged back down.

However, it still hurt. I cried and cried and cried. My car became my sacred place to go when I needed to be alone and no one could hear me sob.

I was grieving the life I thought I was going to build.

And that’s where it started. I grieved. I grieved some more. I continued to work through my process and my eyes began to open to the life I got to build for myself. Just me. Myself. However the hell I wanted to.

things that helped me love myself (and my life) more

  1. Share your grief/sadness/trauma/loneliness with someone or some people who love you.

My friends, and (probably most importantly) my mom, were and are instrumental in my life. My mom offers the perfect mix of listening and advice, but never letting me get away with too much of my own bullshit. In the moment, I hate it (“Just let me vent!”) but afterwards I realize that she’s usually right. She always offers a listening ear and is my biggest supporter in everything that I do. She proofreads nearly all of my blogs for me and sends me a text “I’m watching your IGTV!”

2. Re-evaluate your circle.

This goes hand-in-hand with my previous note, but I have to acknowledge that my friendships have ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years. I am a person who recognizes that friendships have seasons. Some seasons are just a shifting (schedules, priorities, etc.) and some seasons come to a close because they no longer provide you with the necessities of friendship. It’s okay to release friendships that no longer elevate your life.

3. Learn your natural tendencies.

Like I said — when I was healing, the process was long and hard. I sat with my feelings. I learned their names and sorted through the memories that were associated. I became familiar with the times when I needed mental rest, emotional rest, physical rest… I learned how to begin to balance my life again — and to give time to the things that deserved my time rather than what demanded my time.

Learn how you recharge — some days, I want to hole up in my room and not see a soul. Other days, being by myself makes me feel like I’m going insane. Honor that recharge time, and seek the experiences that will fill your cup.

4. Don’t be pressured into a timeline.

I’ve written about this before and I probably will again. Do not feel rushed in your own life — not about healing, or ‘moving on’, or dating, or marriage, or a career, or a degree, or anything in between. You’re on your own journey and it’s meant JUST FOR YOU.

5. Talk vulnerably — often.

While I’ve gained more and more confidence about what I share online in the past months, I wish I had opened up earlier (and when it hurt more) but I hid a lot of it due to shame. Even if these vulnerable conversations don’t happen with strangers on the internet (like me!) you can share them with that trusted circle or your momma.

6. Absorb content that feels good.

Unfollow the accounts that make you feel anything less than fabulous. If you feel weird about unfollowing — hit that mute button, baby! Follow accounts that encourage you to think differently, love yourself, see yourself represented, or that make you laugh!

7. BIG, AUDACIOUS DREAMING.

I LOVE THIS STEP. I’ve been doing better at this as of lately — speaking my dreams into reality! I have a vision board in my room and I see it every day — manifesting the dreams that I have for myself. I am trying to encourage myself to dream big and continue to work hard for the life I’m trying to build.

8. I joined a gym.

I didn’t join this gym to get a revenge bod. I don’t work out for aesthetics. I work out because it makes me feel good and gives me an amazing community of women. That’s how you achieve self-love — by doing things for how they make your soul feel. I’ve written about it before – this gym has changed my life. I can schedule that me-time into my days and devote that time to clearing my mind and honoring my body.

9. I made some awesome playlists.

For a long time, I could only listen to worship music. It soothed my soul. Then I transitioned and created my ‘lady jams’ and ‘breakup and glowup’ playlists. Listen to music (again, absorbing content) that makes you feel good, dance around the room, and remember your worth. You deserve dance parties and bad bitch bops.

10. Travel.

While I know this isn’t possible right now (thanks, COVID) I do think it’s an important piece of the puzzle. I hope that when COVID is in the rearview mirror we can all hop on a plane to celebrate. Traveling opens your mind, your eyes, your heart, and just allows you to be present. I am a better version of myself during and after my travels. Book the flight.

11. Last but not least: have fun.

Self love is a journey and you’re allowed to have fun along the way. You might cry one day and laugh endlessly the next. Don’t take life too seriously. You are worthy and amazing just as you are. Life is fun — don’t be afraid to join in.


Remember: I don’t have it all together. Somedays, I totally fall apart.

That’s okay.

Life isn’t meant to be perfect — but it is meant to be whatever the hell you want it to be.

Your way. Your timeline. Your pieces to the puzzle. Your growth. Your journey.

Mine’s been a little funky — but I like where I’m headed. I’m proud of me.

And of course: I love me.

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quarantine, the new personality test

I study communication. While there are many communication theories, I’m zooming in on Uncertainty Reduction Theory today. Essentially… we, as humans, aim to reduce our uncertainty by gaining information. (Yes, it’s typically in the frame of human communication and new people, but bear with me here.)

Right now, gaining information can seem to only increase our uncertainty. When will the pandemic come to a close? Will life return to normal? Am I a carrier? Will my trip to the grocery store make me sick? How long until I can hug my friends? The answer is simple: we really don’t know. Watching/reading/listening to the news only helps so much. We still have to live in uncertainty. And it’s uncomfortable.


I really like to take personality tests. I like to learn about myself. I think back on when I took the StrengthsFinder test or learned about my enneagram number (2w3, though I might be 3w2… I’m right in the middle!) and how I was fascinated by my results and what that meant about who I am and how I live my life, communicate, connect with others, thrive, etc. (Oh, and the love languages test truly changed the game for me in my personal relationships. The list goes on.)

Then I had this thought. This time — COVID19 + quarantine + social distancing — is like a personality test. What can we learn in this time of chaos, uncertainty, and isolation? What will we become aware of that we previously had not even thought about? Will what we learn allow us to elevate and change?

Every next level of your life will require a different version of you.

unknown

I think about this quote a lot. I think about this when I’m going through an uncomfortable change. When I’m doing something that I know is going to be good… but doesn’t feel so good right now, or takes a lot of work, or even makes me sad at the time. We’re learning, slowly but surely, how to advance to the next level of our lives.

I tell my Speech 101 students that the goal of their first speech is not to be perfect. When they give their first speech, they get feedback from their peers and from me that illuminates what they did — both good and bad. I say, “We have to become aware of our natural tendencies.”

Only when we become aware of our natural tendencies can we begin to make changes — to understand where we are, where we’re headed, and how we can make the adjustments to improve.


We take personality tests because we like to reduce uncertainty about ourselves. We’re gaining information in a way that seems easy — answer a few simple questions and unravel those answers.

We like to take the easy way. We don’t like to be uncomfortable.

Right now, in the chaos & uncertainty, we have an opportunity to use this time as a springboard to our next level. We need to become aware of our natural tendencies — who we are, why we do what we do, and what we require to live our best lives — and understand how to get better.

I asked my friends and followers what they had learned about themselves during quarantine. I stated that I discovered I have some sort of springtime allergies (who knew?!) when in reality, I feel that I’ve learned many things. Others reported they learned that they lack hobbies, motivation, or dedication to their current job or schoolwork. Others stated their need/want for people and human interaction, learning about their own tendency towards intro- or extroversion. We’re all learning different things every day.

Now’s the time when it gets uncomfortable. It’s time to figure out what our next level is and how we can get there. We can’t reduce our uncertainty about some things in this world — but we can create and maintain a deeper level of understanding within ourselves.

What are you learning about yourself? What’s your next level?

(Oh… and what’s your enneagram number?)


PHOTO: Porch Portrait Project by Erica Lynn Photography

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leveling up

The alternate title for this blog post:

what this ‘rebrand’ means to me.

Amidst COVID-19, we’re living with a lot of uncertainty, monotony, simplicity, and… boredom. I’ve noticed my own motivation to complete assignments or work commitments dwindling. However, I’ve noticed a fire in my belly when I’m discussing my own content creation, website, and sharing #allthethings with my little community on Instagram and beyond.

When I get to create and share, I feel joy.

When someone tells me that I am sharing something meaningful, I feel overjoyed.

There’s something so special about using my voice — using my platforms — using my own life to allow others to feel okay in what their experiencing. Burnout? Been there. Heartbreak? Felt it. Happiness? Yeah girl. Wanderlust? Every day. Loneliness? Me too. Empowerment? Let’s share. A good deal? Add to cart. Need a smile? Here’s me making a fool of myself on the internet.

I don’t really know what I’m doing — for someone with degrees in Communication Studies & Advertising, working on my M.A. in the same disciplines, I still have SO MUCH TO LEARN. I love soaking up inspiration and education from other amazing women, creatives, entrepreneurs, bloggers, content creators, communicators, strategists… you name it! I do so in hopes of bettering myself and continuing to evolve.

It’s been four years of blogging and almost 3 years of intentional content creation on Instagram. My life, and who I am, has changed greatly since I began.

I’m so happy and blessed that I can share my stories and make other women feel a little more joy. a little more understood. a little more inspired. a little more educated. a little more empowered. a little more excited. a little more passionate. a little bit more belly laughter. (maybe a few more packages arriving after their online shopping, too.)

This is my therapy, my hobby, my passion, my favorite thing to do (throw in a dance party and a glass of moscato and I’m really set.)

It’s constantly changing and shaping itself along the way. I’m so excited.

I’m leveling up — this little website refresh/rebrand/update is just the start.

Cheers!

website branding photos: Erica Lynn Photography

website and graphic design: me!

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life is in the outtakes

I just came home from a photoshoot with ladies from my gym. I left with an urge to write and a feeling that maybe others would need to hear these words as much as I needed to be reminded.


I saw some photos of me from the back of the camera and Erica, the photographer, would say “This one is so cute!!” and I agreed… but I thought, oof I look … fat. thick. chunky. whatever word you’d like to use.

Through it all, I still love myself and the body I exist in. I laugh and say to the others, “She a little thick but she’s hot though.” They laugh. I tend to handle weird feelings with humor, but I can’t deny that I look nice in the photos. I did my makeup, curled my hair, I have nice teeth… I look nice. Maybe I don’t look thin, but I look nice.


Other ladies asked me about my trip — gushing over my photos that I posted on Instagram, inquiring about my ‘professional photographer’ (lol, S/O to my pal Michael), and telling me that they loved following along.

**Don’t get me wrong — my trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico was amazing… blog post coming soon!! I can’t wait to share everything we did and saw and enjoyed in PR. With school shut down this week, I’m hoping to write!**

However, I have to giggle and think to myself… these things have one thing in common.

Life is in the outtakes.


There’s so much life that happens between the perfect photo. For every photo I post, there’s 10 or 39 other photos that look very, very similar … but that I thought I looked fat. thick. chunky. whatever word you’d like to use.

Or I looked icky. or sweaty. or wind-blown. or sunburned. or oily. or ‘bad’. whatever word you’d like to use.

I’m not necessarily any of those things. I’m just me. I just exist in a larger body than some. Sometimes, I also look cute. hot. pretty. lovely. stunning. whatever word you’d like to use.

There’s so much of life that happens between the perfect pictures, the right angles, the gorgeous makeup, the flattering outfits. When you think about it… this is why candid photos became popular. So popular, in fact, we started posing for them. (“and laugh on three, 1.. 2… 3…hahaha”)

Because we all know — even if we don’t like to admit it — life happens in the outtakes. That’s where the fun happens. That’s where the memories are.

There’s so many memories from today’s photoshoot, my trip to Puerto Rico, and every moment in between throughout my life that are so special and wonderful there’s no way they could be captured in one singular moment caught in time through a photo.

Now, I also have to admit that I love pretty photos. Pretty photos are great. They hold some magic, and for me — are really fun to take and post and share. I love posing and shooting and editing and sharing.

But I also love my very real life, and I love coming to terms with loving whichever version of my body I see in the mirror or in pictures.


Today, I wore a sports bra in most of my photos for my gym. I felt comfy and confident in the mirror. During a few of the photos I was a little nervous that a certain pose may not flatter me or that (insert body part here) looked (insert adjective here).

I thought to myself… that’s just how I look. This is who I am. This is what my body looks like. My body still does the tough workouts just like these other amazing and gorgeous women. We’re all different shapes and sizes and I am not thinking these thoughts about any of them — I admire each and every one of those badass babes.

My body still carries me and supports me and is healthy. My body is worthy and, to be frank, fucking awesome.

And maybe, just maybe, when these photos get posted… a girl who looks like me won’t be nervous to show up to her first workout.

Or maybe, just maybe, when I post a photo of me that shows my body as it is, a girl who looks like me will post her first post on her new blog/fashion/fitness/lifestyle account. Or wear the funky outfit. Or just show up as she is.

So in case you needed the reminder, like I did, here it is:

Life is in the outtakes and loving yourself is an everyday adventure. It’s okay to show up as you are. It’s okay if it’s not always pretty photos. It’s okay if it is.

Life is more than anything that can be captured in a single moment.

Life is in the outtakes.

me, when a bird flew past me while sitting on a high ledge and scared me half to death
Me, in my photoshoot. Feeling like a bad bitch. **Photo courtesy of Erica Lynn Photography, owned by Erica Lynn Photography and b.well brookings
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alex’s travel essentials

hey hey! I had a request recently to share some of my travel essentials for the travel newbie and I’m happy to share the few things that I love and can’t leave behind on my travels.

First, let me start from the initial booking! My go-to booking site is skiplagged! It finds the flights that other airlines don’t want you to find and combines flights from various airlines as well so it’s a way to cut some corners and save some pennies! I got my roundtrip flights to Europe for $800 and have found some other great flights on the site since. Make an account and get to booking your next vacay!

Second, let me direct you to my AMAZON IDEA LIST for TRAVEL! Many items I’ve mentioned below can be found HERE! I appreciate your support when you purchase through my amazon storefront.

Now for all the things!

  • Capsule Wardrobe
    • Clothes that all work together, share similar colors, and can make plenty of outfits
    • Good accessories to add: a neutral hat, a scarf that fits in the capsule, simple jewelry, sunglasses
    • Summer shoes: highly recommend Chacos
  • Packing cubes or space saver bags
  • Neck pillow – highly recommend one with memory foam
  • Headphones
  • Microfiber towel – a perfect blanket and/or towel (in European hostels, towels cost 5 Euros)
  • Eye mask for solid sleeping anywhere
  • Good baggage
    • here’s my favorites: backpack, carry-on, and purse/fanny pack
    • RFID-blocking wallet … make sure no one can scan your credit cards!
  • Makeup Wipes
  • Baggage Locks
  • Travel adapter – a necessity for international travel
  • A good book – paperback

Downloads:

A Couple Reminders:

  • Travel size — if you’re flying with only a backpack and carry-on (my preferred way to travel!) be sure to downsize to less than 3 oz. bottles of all your favorites!
  • Roll your clothes — rolling your clothes saves space and allows you to stack more.

Places I’ve Been, If You’re Wondering or Want Specifics!

Europe
  • Albania
  • Rome, Italy
  • Cologne, Germany
  • Munich, Germany
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Tbilisi, Georgia *the country
  • Batumi, Georgia *the country
United States
  • Much of the Midwest! (SD is home, of course)
    • ND, MN, NE, IA, WI
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • St. Louis, Missouri (mostly just the Arch, though)
  • Nashville, Tennessee (though just for one night)
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina
  • Washington, D.C.
  • New York, New York
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Hollywood, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Austin, Texas
  • Phoenix, AZ (Chandler area)
  • San Clemente, California
  • Seattle, Washington
North America / Caribbean
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  • Ocho Rios, Jamaica
  • Martha Brae River, Jamaica
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico

Traveling is such a blessing & I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to do so! For further inspiration, visit my Pinterest board full of great travel & adventure quotes 🙂

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we can’t all be glamorous at the same time

I’ve already decided that after Christmas this year (2020) I’m going to book a trip. I don’t know where yet, but I know I want to do something fun during the time between Christmas & continuing for the spring semester. I’m grateful that going to graduate school allows me to have bigger breaks and I want to take full advantage of them going forward. 

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the break that I’ve had and am having. I’ve been relaxing, reading books, making my vision bulletin board, cleaning my house, binging ‘younger’ on Hulu, prepping for the semester, going to the gym…. but I’ve also been BORED.

So what do I do when I’m bored? I scroll social media.

vision board 2020

You might think that this is where I’d go on to rant about social media and comparison, but I won’t. I love social media and it’s allowed me to find connections that I am so grateful for… but today, I was burnt out from it. I decided to disconnect from my phone, blast some tunes from my speaker, and deep clean my house. When I did this, I found myself thinking:

Our lives cannot all be glamorous at the same time.

It’s not a profound concept, it’s just the truth. Right now, I’m not doing fun things or dressing up fancy or snuggling with someone I love or tanning by the water. I’m at home. In pajamas. 

But just because I’m not doing anything ‘cool’ right now, doesn’t mean that the roles haven’t been reversed at some point. I’ve done cool things. I’ve backpacked Europe, I’ve toured DC seven times in one summer, I’ve stuck my toes in the water of two oceans within a matter of months, I’ve worn pretty dresses, I’ve gone on cool dates, I’ve had awesome experiences. So… yes, I have done cool things. 


Hofbräuhaus in Munich. Delish.

And while I was doing those things, someone else might have been working their tail off each day to put away money for later. Or maybe that’s when they were really struggling with their mental health and now they feel more fabulous again. Or maybe that was when they really needed to deep clean their house and spend three full days binging 6 seasons of a television show with Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster.

(okay, maybe not those exact details.)

And I have to remember, that even now when I’m at home and getting a certain type of joy from using my swiffer wet-jet and windex-ing my mirror… there are still people that probably think my life is ‘glamorous’ or have looked at MY life from the outside in and wished they could do THAT or be THERE or look THAT WAY. 

I have pictures that make me look (and feel) glamorous. Of course that’s what I want to post! HIGHLIGHT REEL, BABY. Everyone is posting their own highlight reel, on their own timeline, and I’m no exception.

There is room for everyone to have a little bit of glamor in life… to travel, eat good food, dress up, do cool activities, be fabulous, look gorgeous, soak up sunshine, have adventures….

but maybe, now’s just not the right time for me to be glamorous.

So, I’ll wait.

And I’ll post some cute photos in the snow in the meantime.

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letter to my 2020 self

One year ago, I sat down in my bed with computer in hand, and I typed up a “letter to my 2020 self.”

I didn’t open it again until yesterday evening. I wasn’t even half way through the second paragraph when the tears started flowing. I was overcome by the words that I had written for myself one year ago. I was overcome by love for myself and how far I’ve come. Self-love, written down, is so powerful. It’s been a long time since I’ve received a love letter.

When I wrote the words a year ago, I felt as if I was baring my soul. I only shared the final sentence with the world because I was scared to admit some of how I was feeling and what I hoped for the year. It ended with the words, “I love you Alexandra Grace, and I don’t even know you yet.”

I know her now. She’s different than she was one year ago… but the words that I wrote on that snowy, January evening could not be more perfect for the version of myself I am today. I am no longer scared to share these words because I’ve found my tiny corner of the internet where I feel okay sharing my heart and feel supported by other people who feel the same or can find some sort of message, inspiration, or meaning to take away from my vulnerability and my words. And, I just don’t care.

So here’s a few excerpts of my letter to my 2020 self… my letter to who I am today, written in early 2019.


I hope in one year you are beaming with pride at the person you are. I hope you see that rock bottom became the solid foundation on which you built your life. I cry as I write this because I so deeply hope that your heart has healed, my sweet girl. You deserve the world. You deserve love, and so so so much of it. But first, we have to learn to give it to ourselves so much so that we overflow into everyone else.

            Alexandra, you are amazing. Even on days when you don’t feel it. Even now as you sob off your makeup in your bed and write a silly letter to yourself for one year down the road. 2018 was the year to see the world and the year to be broken. 2019 is the year to heal your brokenness and realize that your world starts with you.

            Alexandra Grace, I hope you have the audacity to take your life by the reigns and make it your bitch… for lack of better, more poetic words. Now is the time to fight for your life, every minute of it. I hope you did this year. If not, every day is a new day to start again.

            I hope you smile as your look back on 2019. I hope you see the doors that opened and closed for you. The people you met, the friends you made. I hope you see the prayers come true and the random dance parties you had. I hope you laugh at stupid memories and got drunk a few times. I hope you are proud of your progress. I hope you are mentally and physically healthier than ever. I hope you are independent but have a great circle of love when you need it.

I hope, more than anything, that you feel worthy and magnificent and lovely and self-made. Sweet girl, you are something to be proud of. You are beyond any unfinished to-do list or well-made plans gone awry. You are beyond goals unmet or pounds gained. You are beyond friends that leave and boys who suck. You are beyond the societal pressures. You are beyond your own wildest dreams.

I love you, Alexandra Grace of 2020, and I don’t even know you yet.


I know I didn’t accomplish all I set out to do last year… but when I cried last night, I know that those tears were happy tears.

And when I write my letter to myself in 2021, I think I’ll cry happy tears too.

So who’s with me? Let’s write our letters to ourselves. Proclaim your hopes and dreams for yourself… a written prayer and vision board and journal entry all at once.

always,

alex.

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progress

Every year on this date, I have almost too many emotions to find the words for. I could say a million things, and seemingly none of them will ever be enough. It’s one of those days I find myself thinking, “no one could possibly understand how I feel,” but still feel compelled to share even just a little piece. I cannot change the past; I was given a future for a reason and I know my reason is not to stay silent about the ways in which I am blessed.

Four years ago today…my life hit rock bottom after a car accident shattered my world, my sense of adventure, and filled me with grief for a woman I had never met and regrets for an event that left me blaming myself and questioning the fabric of my life as I knew it.

A few months later, I packed up my new Subaru and left for college with white knuckles and a lump in my throat. I made my mom ride with me in my vehicle so I didn’t have to make the drive alone.

My brothers used to live in the town I attend university. When I first moved here, I remember my first solo drive from campus to that house. It’s about a 6 or 7 minute drive with very little traffic. I turned my GPS on, even though I thought I knew the way, and… cried the entire drive. This was a real-life occurrence for me… terrified of driving in any capacity after my accident. This wasn’t the only time something like this happened, but this instance sticks out to me, even four years later.

I now live in that same house. I commute every single day to and from campus, sometimes in the middle of a pitch black South Dakotan winter night.

In moments like these, I remember that progress is happening in my life every single day and in each little moment when I force myself to do the scary thing.

I’m still not okay with what happened or okay even driving in many scenarios, but I’m okay. I am grateful every day, specifically today’s date, to be alive and well. I am making progress, slowly but surely, and making myself proud of the smallest, seemingly insignificant things….

like driving home.

always,

alex

If you or someone you know is suffering from trauma, trauma-related anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, here’s some resources:

PTSD is not reserved for soldiers or military veterans, however; anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or life-threatening event, like a car or plane crash, torture, robbery, bombing or terrorist event, rape, murder, or any other violent situation, may be prone to developing PTSD.

– San Diego Treatment Center
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thank u, next… i’m so f’ing grateful for this album.

If you haven’t listened to Ariana Grande’s latest album, titled “thank u, next”… stop right there. Direct yourself to Spotify or Apple Music and take a listen. For your convenience, I have included the lyrics/videos (not all videos have been released) to all the songs on this album just below.

Honestly, I am writing this blog solely because the album has been on repeat in my head since I listened to it on February 8th. I find it relatable, inspiring, and thought-provoking… not to mention it is full of total bops. I’m writing this so maybe I can stop bugging my friends and roommates about all the intricacies of this album and my personal feelings in regards to each song.

Like all of us, Ariana has been through some sh**. We can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through hard things while continuing to be in the spotlight day after day. She highlights this concept in her song, ‘fake smile.’ Ariana’s concert was the location of a terrorist attack, her former beau Mac Miller passed away, and her engagement failed. She channeled so many feelings into her words on this album, and it’s taken me several days and listening to each song probably twenty times to figure out my thoughts from these incredible works.

I’ve been through some sh** myself, and quite honestly I’m here for Ariana’s comeback. Of course, the highlighted song of the album (and arguably the most popular) is ‘thank u, next.’ As we approach Valentine’s Day, I’m constantly reminded of my relationship status. While I realize the necessity of my status and am secure in my current position, the influx of romantic reminders isn’t exactly a mood-booster, even for a hopeless romantic person like me who truly loves love. Ariana states her gratefulness for her past, offers thanks, and moves forward with open arms for whatever comes next. I think that in this season of singleness, I am empowered by her ability to take a hard season of life and turn it into a forward-thinking, grateful anthem that women can both resonate with and dance to in the club. (yes, I mean me.)

Since the release on February 8, my favorite is probably ‘NASA‘ because this song, while ridiculously catchy, is focused on me time, and the idea that even people in relationships need space. her words are, “It ain’t nothing wrong with saying I need me time.” Heck yeah, girlfriend. Self-care is so important, and taking time to just have some space is important. I honestly think I haven’t valued this concept enough in my life, and it’s a great reminder that you are a star, you are your own universe, and you deserve the space you want or need.

A song that strikes an emotional chord with me is ‘ghostin.’ This song discusses Ariana’s grief. I think that anyone going through a breakup or death of a loved one experiences grief and it’s important to let yourself grieve and not cover it up for other people, even those closest to you. Cry it out, sis. It’s a heartbreaking image to hear her describe crying herself to sleep while sleeping next to someone else. Takeaways: feel your feeling when you need to feel them, and heal for as long as it takes.

The song ‘in my head‘ also hit me like a ton of bricks. The intro of the song states, “Here’s the thing: you’re in love with a version of a person that you’ve created in your head, that you are trying to but cannot fix. Uh, the only person you can fix is yourself.” oof. This song is talking about the versions of other people we gather in our heads that is perhaps a figment of our imagination, and invention of our own and not true to another’s true self. This song serves as a good reminder to take off the rose colored glasses.

7 rings‘ focuses on a major positive in Ariana’s life… her gal pals. I always say that girl power is the strongest force in the world. Ariana, in the form of money and being able to purchase all of her favorite things, showcases her hard work. The reason for the title is that she decided to buy matching diamond rings for her best friends rather than disregard her own diamond. Atta girl, Ari. Girl power. Treat yourself, treat your gals, be proud of your accomplishments.

While I could write sentiments about each song, there are some songs with perhaps less positive vibes to pull from, even though they’re still phenomenal. I will, however, offer perhaps a little bit sassier reflection on her final song, ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.‘ This song is perhaps the song with the greatest backlash online, stating that this is a ‘toxic’ song encouraging bad behavior coming from a place of women against women instead of women empowering women. I agree and would never put myself in that position… However, I will definitely say that if all it takes for your man to be unfaithful is another woman saying “I’m bored,” then you need turn and run, sister. He isn’t worth your time.

So thank u… next album please. This album seemed to be released exactly when I needed it and inspired me to dance on my way to class, understand I’m not alone, and to get writing.

Maybe this blog post wasn’t as relatable as some others, or even as inspiring, but this blog post summarizes my recent thoughts and the constant stream of Ariana Grande from my phone! xoxo

always,

Alex