THIS ONE TIME. IN MALIBU.

This one time in Malibu, I fed a giraffe named Stanley from my mouth and we almost kissed…..

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It’s true. That happened. And it was glorious. It didn’t start that way. And it certainly didn’t end that way. But what DID happen, I am soooooo thankful for. I know I have talked about my goon Kayla before. We friends fo life. We have lived in different parts of the country for the past 10-15 years. Just writing that makes me cringe a little and I actually had to do the math on my fingers to make sure I wasn’t making myself sound older than I really am. But nope. Truth. In the past we catch up every now and again. An occasional birthday card, a beer when we are both in the Billings area, etc. Last May, my little squirrel turned the big 3-0 and her Madre wanted to do something really special for her. This included those near and dear meeting somewhere, as we are all quite dispersed. After much talking to Mama Lisa, we decided to meet in Malibu to take a wine safari. Kayla had approached me about this idea before and at first I thought she was joking, but as it turns out, these things truly exist (in California, everything is real). I met Kayla, and a couple of NEW friends, which those of you who know me, know my extroverted freakish self was ecstatic about - Jess and Holly, in Malibu for a long weekend of mayhem, sparkles, and champagne.

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My Uber driver nodded off to sleep the entire one and a half hour drive from LAX to Malibu. He spoke barely any English, so I valiantly tried to make conversation so as to not die in my first ten minutes in California. By the way, Uber is HORRIBLE in the Malibu area. Sometimes we waited for hours. Sometimes they never showed up, plain and simple. Other times, they take naps while cruisin around. You just never know.

That California trip was one of the most life changing experiences for me, for many reasons. First and foremost, we stayed at the Four Seasons. Ya know, where they put little mints on your pillows and make little towel swans for you? Oh. And as it turns out. If you pick up all the treats in the fridge, there are censors installed that automatically charge your room. Luckily, we convinced the eternally patient front desk staff that we are hillbilly Montanans and had never seen such a thing and had definitely not consumed anything so they subsequently removed the charges.

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Second, who doesn’t want to go tour around a winery filled with exotic animals? If you are against that, please go away. I do not need that kind of negativity in my life. Haha, then I think to myself there is probably a group of people who would be all arguing about the animals in captivity bla bla bla. Let me explain, though, that all of the wild beasts at Malibu Wine Safaris were either movie stars or rescues that were unable to be released into the wild. Also let me explain that since the horrid fires in California this past year, the facility was absolutely devastated, but none of the animals harmed. But that is kind of all I know since this post is about my time with my childhood and forever BFF and not about forest fires. Back to the safari. Whoa. I digress. Don’t even know where I was. So we were late to the safari (Uber). But super gorgeous, hiked a couple miles (which they did not serve us wine during the actual hike, much to our dismay), wine after, lots of socializing, returned to hotel. This was the day I nearly made out with a giraffe. Stanley loves romaine lettuce and my mouth tasted like dust and pesticides for about three days. By the way, Stanley is the giraffe from the Hangover movies. So yeah, I pretty much made out with a movie star. Be jealous. 

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Next, we raged in our five star hotel room to emo rock in our underwear (please don’t picture it because I have had two kids and it’s not good). If I remember correctly, Kayla even had us smear some black eyeliner on our eyes like the ‘kids used to do’. Singing so loudly that eventually a hotel staff member had to come ring the door bell (yes the door bell) to please ask us to quiet it down because there had been complaints. Regarding the door bell, it took us a while to even figure out where the noise was coming from. We ordered dirty martinis. Which are really gross. But I think we might have finished them the next morning. 

I don’t remember all of the details. At some point we practiced applying lip gloss with fake squirrel fingers. It is that Kylie Jenner stuff that doesn’t come off your lips too, unless you have a secret stash of paint thinner. When I actually write out all of this, it sounds much stranger than it did in my head. Oops. And the grand finale. The three remaining troops grab our luggage, check out of paradise, and drag our carry-ons around Hollywood Boulevard. Eventually to the Museum of Death. Jess had to make a hasty exit, due to risk of vomit city. What a strange place. I still do not have words for what I saw there….. just google it I guess.

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Basically after that, we got drunk with some British people in the airport, talked about the royal wedding, I got lost at LAX, had to exit the whole airport and go through security a second time, just to almost miss my flight home.

But the reason I am telling you all this is this…

Something happened between Kayla and I that weekend. Something magical. Prior to that, our relationship had been relatively distant. A microcosm of something that had once existed that we were desperately trying to hold together with frayed twine. But after Malibu, it was like we were whole again. We are a different kind of ‘adult’ whole. We both have grown, we have acknowledged it, we call each other out on our shit, and we move on. We check in on each other way more than we used to, still living across the country but believing that a visit is just a few hours away and also believing that we are each willing to make that possible. Because I KNOW and SHE KNOWS that nobody else will smear makeup all over their face as a thirty something mom and jump on the bed and act ridiculous and sing their heart out to our favorite songs like I will. Love you Kayla May. I love growing old with you. Can’t wait to sing with you in Austin. I hear it’s like the music capital of the world or something.

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AGE AS A PRIVILEGE

I complain. A lot. I don’t live every day to the fullest. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to. Or that I don’t have super good intentions. PS - I don’t think it’s possible to live EVERY SINGLE day to the fullest. Eventually you get a sinus infection or something that impedes that ability. Or you know when you stub your pinky toe on the side of a door or the washing machine…. That shit knocks you down for a good hour or two. That being said, I feel like I try. When I say try, I mean I am conscious of the fact that it is something I perpetually need to work on (yet will never be perfect at).

feeling old on the inside, pretending to be young on the outside….

feeling old on the inside, pretending to be young on the outside….

Age is a privilege. I have been stewing over this concept quite a bit over the past few months and it has elicited a wide array of emotions, and basic disappointment in humanity. Truth be told, in the past, I too, have been a victim of the ever persistent quest of looking/becoming/being ‘younger’. I have put chemicals on my face in an effort to get rid of wrinkles, made Botox consultation appointments (which I later canceled), and looked at myself as not measuring up to whatever the standard is that society has set forth. 

Now, disclaimer: no judgement to those of you who do whatever it is to make yourself feel better about yourself. However, I think most of this vanity is instilled in some sort of sickening societal standard that we desperately need to come together to change. I just turned 33. And (I am in no way seeking compliment here, so please spare me) I am aware I look older than that. I FEEL older than 33. I have been through a lot in my short time on this Earth, and that is okay. It’s all okay. I don’t know who or what decided that who or what defined ‘beauty’. But I am pretty bound and determined to start looking at myself and others in a different light. What if we measured beauty and happiness by how we FELT on the inside. I know that sounds cliche. But it’s true. When I think of wellness, I think of happiness. Not of the amount of wrinkles I may have on my forehead (which happens to be a few). And that’s okay.

photo cred: my boo thang, Marc

photo cred: my boo thang, Marc

As a medical professional and science geek, I should know better than to be putting things in or on my body that we really do not know the long term effects of yet. So, I refuse to do that any longer. I will no longer succumb myself to being some sort of guinea pig or lab rat for a strange comparison experiment.

When I was doing my clinical rotation work in my last year of Pharmacy School, I met a patient in oncology who made me so incredible sad, yet so thankful to be alive. She was in her mid 30’s and one random and normal day had been bouncing her baby on her knee when the baby’s head struck her chin and she bit her tongue. She bit it hard enough to wound it to the effect that she did several rounds of antibiotics, yet her tongue wound kept getting worse and worse. Eventually doctors discovered some sort of unusual cancer had developed, whether or not a result of the wound, who knows. But it ended up being stage 4, and she was undergoing the last option treatment when I met her. I guess the reason I tell you this story is, this woman did nothing wrong. In one innocent act, she had everything stripped from her and the thought of her children going on without their mother is heartbreaking to me. Growing older and being with the ones you love is a privilege, not to be taken too lightly. I don’t know about you, but I would choose bouncing my babies with wrinkles as deep as the Grand Canyon, over not at all, till the cows come home.

photo cred: Zack Vowell, Bozeman Mont.

photo cred: Zack Vowell, Bozeman Mont.

I find myself watching what I say on almost a daily basis to try to provide a positive influence for my girls. No matter what my true opinion of myself is, I want them to grow up thinking they can look in the mirror and see confident beauty regardless of what is staring back at them. Wendy Euler’s tag line (@goodbyecroptop) is 50 is the new 50. I love this. Embrace. Age isn’t so much as the visual as the relationships we form, the energy we portray, and our ability to grow and spread positivity to those around us.

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THE REFRESH

I guess a lot of flowers go dormant for a time. Im not sure if that is quite what happened to me….

photo cred - ZACK VOWELL, BOZEMAN, MONT. (AWESOME SAUCE)

photo cred - ZACK VOWELL, BOZEMAN, MONT. (AWESOME SAUCE)

But something happened. It would be fair and more accurate to say I gave up for a short period of time. I got overwhelmed. They say that comparison is the thief of joy; and lemme tell ya. TRUTH. This whole hobby of blogging, writing, and the social media aspect that follows is extremely daunting in the realm of comparison. It is not difficult to get caught up in the idea that you aren’t good enough, or that what you are writing isn’t good or captivating enough, or people don’t like this or that or the other. That is what probably initiated my disinterest in the whole kit and caboodle. Once this happened, I found myself finding the most mundane excuses you could ever think of to kind of ‘get out’ of blogging. After all, SOMEONE has to water the succulents once a week. And so. I stopped. I stopped sharing anything and I quit doing something I love. It has been roughly 8 months since my last post. Actually, it’s not even fair to call that ‘mine’. 

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A few weeks ago, the thing happened. I woke up and decided I just didn’t give shit. I decided I didn’t care that all my laundry wasn’t done or that my house is pretty much always a disaster. And honestly, those succulents are more work than they are worth and there is some sort of fungus growing on one of them. I know, if I can’t keep those alive, how do I keep my humans alive? I decided I have a finite amount of days on this planet and I’ll be damned if I am going to spend them trying to live up to whatever expectations anyone else has for me. I am not going to compare myself to anyone else either because, truth be told, I’m an odd duck anyways and it’s not like comparing apples to apples. I like pants with loud prints, and bright colored shoes, and I don’t care if it’s trendy or not. And it probably DOES make my butt look big. But I don’t care. And that’s why I don’t ask anyone.

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I am not solely responsible for this epiphany and it wouldn’t be fair to not give credit where credit is due. For most of these people, I don’t know how to give credit other than their Instagram handle….. Lame maybe. But. shrug. Several of these ladies were at an event called Girl Talk I attended put on by an amazing woman in the Bozeman community - Cass Wendell. Sooooo phenomenal.  

@thewellnessrookie for showing me a sense of community and encouragement that has been looooonnng overdue. Cass, eternally grateful.

@revolutionarylifestyle - self love teacher extraordinaire. I don’t really need to say more. She runs a podcast you should check out though. Super duper thumbs up. 

@goodbyecroptop who, in a recent women’s wellness group event, spoke some extremely wise words on aging and convinced me to embrace growing older and gaining experience as a positive aspect of life. This really struck me to the core. And peeps - she is awesome. I canceled a Botox consult appointment. Legit. 

@nicolewildcollective for being a stellar down to earth yoga lady and exhibiting the possibilities of retraining your body to do incredible things.

@ess_effect for also showing me quality community and lady love. And for putting up with my horrid modeling skillz. (skills with a ‘z’ because it’s THAT bad).

Last, but certainly not least, my main squeeze Cark. (That’s Marc with a C to the layperson). He has taught me something that I am not sure I would have ever learned, which is to be graceful and kind to myself. It is an idea I am still growing accustomed to, but I feel like there is so much progress here. I have learned: it is okay to nap, relax, screw up, apologize, and subsequently be forgiven, and it’s okay to NOT DO ALL THE THINGS AND JUST LIVE AND ENJOY. Attention all type A/overachieving freaks out there. Heed this. You won’t regret it.

It’s likely that all of these people (along with a million unmentioned) have no idea they have even impacted me the way they have. But that is why I feel it’s important to recognize that. To some extent, we are all looking to inspire the uninspired. To change someone. Alter a perception for the better. This project will be taking a slight dogleg left for that reason, as far as content is concerned.

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And another thing. I also don’t care that I have horrible grammar and my sentences are either incomplete or run on for eternity. Just sayin.

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That's Gonna Leave a Mark

In lieu of my Sunday post, I wanted to tell you a story. So I have this friend. Her name is Kayla. And she is probably the most genuine, crazy, fun, loving person you would ever meet. She has been one of my best friends since I can remember, even though we have lived in different parts of the country for some time now. She is someone who I can go without seeing for a year, meet up with, and it is as if no time has passed. We have recently reconnected more than usual because of some loss, but she recently reached out to me because she has been writing 'notes', as she calls them. About a month or two ago, Kayla lost one of her best friends suddenly and tragically and has had to go through the experience alone and this breaks me at the core. I wanted to share with you one of Kayla's so-called notes. Sierra, 30 years old, was unexpectedly found unresponsive one day by her husband, leaving behind both him and their 11 month old baby. Although there was a history of influenza, pneumonia, etc, the investigation is ongoing to determine what ultimately caused her death. I don't think losing someone is ever easy. But this scenario scares the daylights out of me and has substantially changed people around me. Here is what Kayla had to say about her friend Sierra. 

Sierra (left) Kayla (right)

Sierra (left) Kayla (right)

"I met you on craigslist.  When I showed up to meet you and examine my new environment I was instantly greeted by your soul-latching laugh and your wet puppy... who is now snuggled on my couch almost 6 years later.  You became not only my roommate but also my mentor and mother, and then inevitably one of my best friends.  Nursing: you never understood it and
neither did I.  But you supported me and always made sure I consumed “a protein,” in our brief meetings before I went to work night shift and you were getting home from lawyering.  At one point when I was frustrated and overwhelmed during my first stint as a hospital nurse, you told me I could quit and just be responsible for walking our dogs and making sure we had an assortment of Trader Joe’s chocolates in the freezer.  I knew you were being serious. 
I would by lying if I said the last 30 days haven’t changed me.  I lost someone I loved that had a whole life ahead of her.  As an ER nurse- I see it all the time.  Unfortunate circumstances appear almost every day and the most I have mustered in my mind was, “that sucks ass.”  
I’m lucky as hell- I text my grandparents (all 4 who are alive.)  I have always felt like I was an empathetic person, despite the jaded and sometimes emotionally hollow person I am in the ER and being “lucky,” has shaped me into. When friends/family or patients lose someone they love- I think about them, their feelings; if they are sleeping/eating; if they feel like they will ever be happy again.  

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In the blink of an eye I became someone I have looked at through empathetic eyes.  The pain started in the depths of my being and will always be there.  In my profession you have to be closed down and disassociated to some extent... or you simply wouldn’t survive.  
Surviving has a whole new meaning to me now.  It’s no longer people who survive the car accident driving to swim practice, surviving the devastating blood clot that paralyzed the right side of a body after traveling the world for a 30th wedding anniversary, surviving the flu-which can be a lot to ask.  Surviving to me now looks like this:  Knowing you or your daughter's birthday is approaching, looking through our many emails and text messages wanting to respond so badly I choke, grasping for the air that no longer is in my lungs, going to work and caring for people who continue to abuse their bodies daily and think of how you couldn’t leave the house without your tea and multivitamin.  Surviving now is holding Z butt tight for you.
My life has changed because you were in it; I will continue to learn from you and promise to be graceful when I look at life.  ❤️"

- Kayla Johnson

 

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The title of this post was created by Kayla. It is one of her standard sayings. Most of the time she says it with shrugged shoulders and continues about her day. This time I think she means it. Sometimes people affect us in ways we can not explain and no matter what happens, they are always a part of us. Be strong, my love, and walk forward.

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