taking stock

I haven’t written here in awhile! Here are some things that have been going on lately.

The weather is getting warm and the sun is staying out later and it’s all making me happy. I love the changing of the seasons. It’s also got me reminiscing on last summer in SLC which was such a warm and happy and special time in my life.

I’m doing the Wasatch Back Ragnar (a 200-mile relay race and van-camping weekend) next weekend for the third year. Every year I get to the end of that weekend, dead-tired and battered, and swear I’ll never do it again. But… it’s so so fun and I think I’d miss it if I didn’t do it. It’s sort of a personal tradition at this point.

this doesn’t belong anywhere but I’m just excited that my bangs are growing out

Maybe the biggest thing happening lately is that I am moving! I’m staying in Utah but actually going to the Heber Valley area. I have loved living in downtown SLC for the past year, but I think my day-to-day life would be better suited to the clean air and mountains of the Wasatch Back. I find myself driving a lot to get to the canyons to hike and trail run with my dog, and going out to restaurants and bars comparatively little. I will miss being right in the middle of SLC and being able to walk to an awesome library and cool bars and my favorite movie theater. But I’m still only going to be an hour away for fun nights in the city, and in exchange, I’ll live and work in a pretty mountain cabin setting and have super easy access to the outdoors for running, hiking, snowmobiling, and just exploring. It’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into and I’m really excited about it. I’m also excited because I’m tired of having so many things packed up! Once I move in, I’ll be able to set out my art desk and sewing machine and guitar and do those things again.

the view from my new deck! (this was back in march when it was still mostly dead, but it’s super green now)

I’ve been vegetarian for a year! I was pretty determined a few months ago to switch to full-on veganism, which I did for about three months, but I’m currently off that train again eating dairy and eggs. At this point avoiding meat is super easy, and I never feel like I’m missing out on anything in social situations. But restricting eggs and dairy felt hard and obsessive and awkward. It was no problem for me to cook vegan at home, but eating at restaurants or other people’s houses, accepting gifts of candy or baked goods, etc. became complicated and really unpleasant. It felt like a sacrifice of an important social bonding thing, and honestly, I just felt tired and worn down after a few weeks (even though I was taking iron and B12 supplements), probably because some of the highest-protein and highest-calorie parts of my diet involved dairy or eggs, and without those, I struggled. I’m not trying to avoid responsibility, I’m sure I could have found a way to feed myself properly on a vegan diet, but this is just where I’m at right now. For now, I’ve made peace with my (pretty limited) consumption of non-meat animal products. I have some more thinking to do about it for sure. In any case, I love being vegetarian and I absolutely love how it has encouraged me to come up with some really creative ways of cooking and eating and enjoying fresh vegetables.

Seth is selling his condo downtown and we’ve been fixing it up before he puts it on the market. Over the past couple months I have learned so much about home remodeling: prepping for painting, painting, patio flooring, knocking down (non-load-bearing) walls, patching drywall, installing sheetrock, cutting granite, managing contractors, installing sinks and faucets, tiling and grouting… dude it’s been illuminating and worthwhile and also exhausting. Seth is doing the vast majority of the work and I’m still drained. I’m ready for this to be over soon please! And the new house, luckily, doesn’t really need anything done to it right away, so I’ll be taking a good break from this stuff soon.

A couple months ago I decided to take a step back from social media. I think that mindset was a really good thing for me. But I found that completely deleting my account made me feel disconnected; I missed out on knowing some important things happening in the lives of people I care about. I know it’d be nice to think that we all just text or call each other to catch up, but that doesn’t always happen now with announcements of life events happening on social media. So I compromised by making my account private, removing a bunch of followers I didn’t actually know IRL, and unfollowing a bunch of accounts. Now I’m finding I use it in a much more healthy way. Without all the extra “pretty” or “inspiring” posts showing up in my feed, it’s a lot less engaging and addictive.

I’ve been interested in meditation for the past 1.5 years or so, using the app “Headspace”, but it wasn’t until three months ago that I feel like I really started learning and experiencing the real effects of it. I randomly found this book, Meditation Without Gurus, at the library, and it ended up having a pretty big impact on me. I don’t think this book is extremely popular or “the definitive guide to meditation” or anything like that, but I just found it really approachable and straightforward. It talks about how a lot of people, when starting out with meditation, struggle with all these questions of “how should I meditate?” “what should I think about when I meditate?” “what should I be keeping in mind?” “who should I learn from?”, etc. And the simple answer is just that you don’t need anything fancy to learn how to meditate — the whole point is to do nothing, to think about nothing, to slip out of your own consciousness, to step back from the concept of “I” and “me” and into the present. It has had a really big impact on me, but it does take effort, and some days I’m better at it than others. I’d definitely recommend this book if it’s a topic you’re interested in.

sometimes i put almond milk in my coffee and it looks cool

I have this little book club that I’ve somehow managed to keep together (even if sometimes only three people show up haha). While it’s a really small aspect of my daily life, having a goal of at least one book every month is something that I’ve come to enjoy a lot. Last month, we read Educated by Tara Westover, and it ended up being my favorite book I’ve read all year. It’s a memoir about a girl who grew up in a survivalist home in Idaho where her paranoid anti-establishment dad dictated that none of the kids go to school, go to the doctor, get birth certificates, etc. She endured a lot of crazy stuff and abuse as a kid, and she talks about growing up, getting an education, and gradually forming her own identity separate from her family of origin. Her prose and imagery are beautiful and her objective descriptions of some pretty horrific events is stunning. I devoured the whole book in a single day and it wasn’t a chore at all. Would def recommend. (P.S. if you’re around SLC, join my book club!)

Seth and I celebrated a year of togetherness a little bit ago and I’m not going to publicly mush but I just really love our relationship and think the world of that dude.

My company did a retreat where everyone came and visited Utah! This was one of the small group activities, a space exploration simulation — basically Star Trek LARPing. I was the first officer and I gotta say we owned it.

This isn’t a picture of my team but I’m gonna gush about them for a second. My team has this great chemistry and it’s a weird thing. We get together in person just a few times a year and we looooove picking a restaurant and ordering a bunch of plates and passing them around. It’s always memorable and joyful. This time we went to Finca in downtown SLC and it was incredible — tasting plates of olives, roasted carrots with honey and ricotta, garlic and sherry vinegar mushrooms, paella, housemade sangria. One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

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Hawaii travel video!

I went to Hawaii last week (Oahu & Maui) with some friends. It was incredible. I know there are tons of cool places to travel around the world, many of which I haven’t seen yet, but I’m pretty confident Hawaii will always be one of my favorite spots. I love the clear water, the tropical fish, the warm rain, the way plants grow like crazy, macadamia nuts, fresh fruit, surfer culture, the wildlife, the mountains, just, I am all about the ALOHA LIFESTYLE, dudes.

I was able to spend a lot of time snorkeling and scuba diving, which is my personal heaven on earth. It’s a cliche, but being in the water looking at an underwater world of coral and fish, all the stuff I was worried about totally evaporated. We also hiked, ziplined, explored, ate and drank, and lounged.

I wasn’t very on top of taking pictures and videos (except underwater) but I pieced this little video together to help me remember the trip. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, plz watch at least 1:08 to 1:43, from when I saw this big octopus swimming around, because it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I deleted Instagram and it’s not a big deal but it feels like a big deal

This post is way too long and rambly but I have all these thoughts dude so just LET ME HAVE THIS.

This past week I deleted my Instagram and Facebook apps. I also deleted the Twitter, Snapchat, and Reddit apps from my phone. (I’ll probably still use Twitter and Reddit on my computer sometimes). I wanted to write down why I did this.

I realize the irony of posting about this here, online, on a website that is technically public. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ At least basically no one in my life even knows about this blog, so I’ve got that going for me.

So, Facebook.

Facebook wasn’t a big deal for me day to day. I didn’t use it much. It was sort of a time-waster when I did decide to open it: memes, recipe videos I could watch endlessly while never intending to actually make the food. I don’t know many people who actually use Facebook to post about their lives anymore. I deleted it because I didn’t like the fact that there were hundreds of old pictures and statuses and likes, a lot of which I posted as a teenager when I had a friend list of 10 people. I don’t really need anyone and everyone in my life (and people not even in my life anymore!!!) going back and stalking the shit out of me. Yes, I could delete all the content, but there isn’t a straightforward way to do that. Facebook can be super tricky because it stores all your activity, and it might show up for others while not showing up for you on your profile. I didn’t feel like going down that rabbit hole.

I made an empty Facebook account with 0 friends and 1 picture so that I could continue to manage my book club group (PS if you’re near SLC and want to join my book club I’d love to have you). Someday I’d love to move my book club to Slack or something, but right now, Facebook is ubiquitous and easy for people.

Anyway, the point is: Facebook, NBD. The real problem for me was Instagram.

In terms of my actual time using Instagram, I don’t think I was terrible. I posted a few times a week and spent a total of maybe an hour a day scrolling through stuff. I’ve been using it for years without ever thinking twice.

But there are a few reasons why, I’ve come to realize over the past couple weeks, Instagram has become a negative thing for me.

  • addictive & time-wasting

This one is pretty obvious. Scrolling through Instagram was weirdly engaging and addictive for me. It’s how the app was designed, though, so I guess it’s not that weird. It was the first thing I clicked whenever I grabbed my phone. I would wake up in the morning and waste fifteen minutes just mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. Then more chunks of fifteen minutes here and there throughout the day. It adds up. It was time I could be doing something I actually cared about. I’m not saying mindless entertainment doesn’t have its place, but there are forms of leisure that ultimately make me happier.

  • exposure to marketing, immersion in consumer culture

<cynical pretentious dick alert> A little while ago, I stumbled on a reddit comment about consumerism. I started reading more articles and books about consumerism and waste and how powerful multi-billion dollar aggregate corporations accumulate more and more wealth by marketing to the working class who’s just running in circles working 40 hours a week only to spend all their money on stuff they don’t actually need. Yeah, it’s all cliche, and I’ve got my tinfoil hat on, whatever, and I’d heard all these things many times before, but I guess this time something really clicked for me. Through my entire life I’ve been shaped into the perfect American consumer and I fulfill my role pretty damn well by constantly buying new clothes, makeup, shoes, kitchen tools, really just random stuff that I likely could do without. I’m not trying to make any sort of blanket statement about capitalism, but I have been trying to be more aware of my role in things.

I started noticing advertisements more and more, especially on Instagram. A non-ignorable proportion of stuff there was ads. Either explicit “sponsored” posts, “suggested” posts, or “influencer” posts (friends or bloggers posting about products as part of an ad campaign). I’m not trying to knock people who do campaigns to make money. I get it, I like to make money too. But I just don’t want to see it anymore. I am fully in control of what I expose myself to and what I spend my time looking at, and for my own sanity I am trying to remove myself as much as I can from marketing and messages of “buy this thing”. Buy this thing and you can be beautiful, interesting, successful like the person posting about it. This sounds like a cliche strawman criticism of advertising, but at the end of the day, that’s what it all boils down to, and there’s a reason it’s everywhere: it freaking works!!

If you want to know what’s controlling a system, follow the money. Sponsored content rules everything on the Internet. Even the “good stuff” like cat gifs, heartwarming stories, and spiritual inspiration are ultimately, usually, being commodified and packaged and used to sell something (or “gain a following” to sell something). The more I thought about it the more I wanted to reduce my exposure to that world. I’m not saying I’m not gonna enjoy cute videos, but I’m trying to be more aware of why those videos are there and conscious of what I’m doing by watching them.

I know you can never escape consumerism entirely. I participate in it daily. By writing this blog post I’m participating in it. WordPress puts ads on my blog sometimes. It is what it is. I can try to change a few of my habits, though.

</dick>

  • too much focus on “online identity”

There’s a lot of talk about how sometimes people’s social media accounts are false representations, curated “highlight reels” of their best moments and none of their mundane ones, and about how we should be “authentic” on social media. In my head I aligned myself with that because I’d usually just post about my normal life. My pets, friends and family, weird looking vegetables, a nice hike I went on by myself. Maybe sorta privileged carefree millennial stuff, but nothing overly glamorous.

But even though my social media “identity” was pretty “authentic”, or accurate to my actual life, I had to take a step back and consider whether a “social media identity” was a valuable thing for me at all. My conclusion was that it wasn’t. I was finding myself a little too attached and proud and invested in that stream of pictures under my username. I was, in a way, tying up my identity and trying to influence others’ perception of me through the images in my feed. I wanted people, or at least my followers, to perceive me and understand me as the kind of person who goes on hikes, who has fun times with family and friends, who likes vegetables, whatever. It wasn’t enough to just be the person I am and experience the things I was experiencing. I was showcasing it. I was performing — even if I was just displaying my normal life. It was still performative.

  • social baggage, artificial sense of connection

Sharing and documenting and even performing isn’t inherently bad. I’m a social person and I love having conversations and exchanging stories and photos with other humans. But Instagram was too much social overhead for me. I was a teenager when I made my account, so my Insta connections included such people as exes, exes’ families, my parents’ friends, people I hadn’t spoken to since high school, and all of their mothers and dogs. Somewhere deep down I’m sure it was getting in my head that everyone who’s ever known me has got an eye on me. I think in some way I felt I had to prove myself to all these random people. I still have a job! I’m still in ok shape! I’m still smiling! I still have friends! But… why do I care at all if all these people “get” me or have nice opinions of me? I can’t actually control that, and thinking about it doesn’t add anything positive to my life.

Keeping in touch with people sounds nice, but publicly posting things and stalking other publicly posted things without exchanging individual conversations introduces this weird sense of artificial involvement. I’d rather just text my actual friends when I want to catch up, and have more mental space to focus on being whatever I am and experiencing my life.

  • limiting real, special, lasting memories of personal experiences

For a long time I felt that posting pictures on Instagram was an awesome way to document my life and preserve memories. A little journal, with the benefit of sharing with friends at the same time. (I actually keep a private journal as well and I’m pretty consistent with it.) I liked scrolling back and looking at the pictures I’d posted and reading what I’d written.

Then I read an article that changed my opinion. Its claim was that posting an experience on social media actually dampens our memory of the specific event. The second we post something for everyone to see, our focus is immediately shifted away from the actual experience and onto others’ perceptions and reactions of our post. The more I thought about that, the more I felt it was true for me. I’d be out doing awesome things and living my life, but in the back of my head I lowkey had the thought of posting something, of adding another thing to the grid of stuff that displayed who I was to the world. It was not only distracting, but also it was cheapening the experiences themselves.

I still love taking photos and documenting my life, but I’d like things to stay in my private journal now, or shared with family and friends I interact with regularly.


Those are the main reasons. As far as deleting all the other apps from my phone, it’s mostly about trying to spend less time mindlessly scrolling. I’m happy with how it’s helped me re-adjust my focus so far. This past weekend was one of the best and happiest weekends I’ve had in a long time.

In conclusion, I think this whole thing probably sounds a) pretentious, b) juvenile. I feel like a lot of these realizations are things that other people have had wayyyyyy before me.

I’m also not trying to say that social media is bad. I’m sure a lot of people use it in a really great, healthy way. I just don’t think it was a positive presence in my own life the way I was using it. Maybe I’ll be away from it forever, and maybe I just need a break once I reorient my habits to be healthier.

I know it might seem silly to have so many thoughts and feelings about something like social media, but honestly, I’m a little ashamed to say it was a big part of my life that occupied too much space in my head. Onward to better things.

 

sketchbook pages

This year I’m trying to spend time intentionally trying new/different things in my sketchbook. Right now I’m getting inspired by a lot of traditional tattoo flash style art. But so far it’s mainly been flowers and leaves and basically learning that my dollar store watercolors don’t work super well, haha. Here are my pages from the past couple weeks.

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when I feel defined by my mistakes

I’ve never written explicitly about this, but everyone reading this will know that I got divorced when I was barely 23 years old.

How does one end up in a situation like this? People always speculate. We got married too young. We were selfish. We didn’t work hard enough. Whatever. The common thread here is that yeah, mistakes were made. You don’t exactly get in that bucket by making perfect life decisions.

Everybody makes mistakes. Even smart people. Even big mistakes. My mistakes were just… extremely public. My mistakes opened my life up to scrutiny and judgement and gossip.

In the months following this event, I heard (and heard of) people assuming and speculating details, saying negative things about me and/or my ex, questioning my dating life and new relationship. I’m sure it wasn’t a huge topic of conversation (I’m not that important), but it’s something I carried, and it didn’t feel super great.

I could usually have a sense of humor about it all. And being young and divorced in Utah is surprisingly common (hmmm… so weird! such a mystery!!!!), so I knew I wasn’t really alone in this.

But sometimes I’d get a sneaky feeling that I needed to somehow prove to the world that I was still the same happy and healthy person I was before. I was not a trainwreck or going through some weird phase. I was still someone worthy of friendship and support and respect.

But hey self, guess what? This feeling is a very stupid feeling. I can’t, and am not obligated to, explain myself to everyone. To myself and to the people who matter, I am not defined by my past mistakes. All I can do is be kind to myself, laugh off the snarky comments, and continue to live my most badass life.

Everyone, including myself, deserves to feel like they can move forward and past their screw-ups. This mistake might be public, but that doesn’t mean anyone else’s assessment of the situation is in any way relevant.

This whole experience made me way less judgmental. Gossip has never been a huge vice of mine, but I’ve definitely been guilty of performing my own personal speculations and assumptions about others. Now I know that I seriously can’t know a situation unless I actually know it.

It also taught me that I don’t need to prove myself according to the obligations, expectations, or parameters of anyone except myself. It’s given me the guts and the confidence to make many other decisions that have brought me closer to the kind of life I want to live.

Basically, living is crazy. I don’t really believe in destiny, but I do believe that the mistakes we make and the crappy things that happen to us are all part of the experience of living, and we take what we can from them.

This all sounds very cliche, and if you asked me to read these words as a teenager and try to take them to heart, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to learn these lessons unless I actually experienced this, so for that, I am thankful.

it’s the second to last day in january

Hello my dudes! Life happens like crazy. Right now I’m sitting in a 300 square foot cabin by Silverwood Lake in the San Bernardino mountains. I decided to come here on… Friday? On Sunday, I packed up my life and made the drive down. I’ll be here for a couple weeks, possibly the month.

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I wasn’t great about writing at the end of last year. While I’m out here in the woods experiencing my own personal Walden (except with a wifi connection), it seems as good a time as any to bring things up to speed here on the blog.

In September I decided to leave my wonderful job, the place where I’d grown the most in my career, a job that I truly loved, and apply for remote jobs. I wanted flexibility, no commute, a more relaxed pace, the ability to do dishes and laundry on my lunch break so I could spend my free time doing more meaningful stuff. I also wanted to take one more variable out of the equation of wanting to move somewhere new, or take a monthlong getaway, like I’m doing now. Sometimes I still miss my old team and the problems we were working on, but this feels like the life for me. It’s extremely balanced and I see it as really sustainable long-term. I’ve also had the chance to travel 1-2 times each month, and a job I can take on the road really helps with that.

Seth’s mom is a poodle breeder and it’s been really fun helping out with the puppies from the last litter. There was this little runty one we all loved and gave special attention; we called him Tiny Kyle. When the puppies started going to their new homes, we realized we were pretty attached and didn’t want to see him go, so we decided to keep him around. I’ve been able to spend lots of time with him since he was born in September and he’s just the happiest and floppiest and softest.

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Seth and I took a cruise to Mexico and it was a blast. We did scuba diving, sketchy horseback riding in which we nearly fell off the horses several times, and just lots of eating and drinking and talking in the sun. It gets me pretty stoked that we’re both scuba certified and can make that an aspect of our travels together.

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I spent Christmas in Utah this year — my first white Christmas! It was all really nice. The love and gifts and hospitality from everyone on Christmas meant so much to me. It was a nice day.

A few weeks ago, I made a really tough decision to place Ellie in a new home with help from the rescue organization I originally adopted her from. When I adopted her a year ago I knew that any animal I’d be bringing into my living situation would need to be very relaxed and able to get along with anyone or anything. I live in a busy city surrounded by unfamiliar people and animals and statues and noises. We thought Ellie would be the perfect fit, even though her past was a bit of a mystery. She was gentle and sweet and seemed to take everything in stride. Soon after I adopted her though, it became clear that she had some reactivity problems in stressful situations. We think it may have been that her disposition changed from having puppies, and then she became anxious again after the puppies were grown and separated from her. I worked with her for a long time on desensitization and gentle positive reinforcement, but it was nearly impossible to keep a safe distance from all of her triggers, and since she is a large powerful dog, things could get dangerous, and I was constantly on edge. Finally an incident occurred after which my vet recommended it would be best for her to be placed in a different home. I cried a lot. The rescue was incredibly kind and helpful; I am so so thankful for people who work in animal rescue. I know she is going in a great direction and will be an amazing companion for her new family.

A couple weeks later, I began thinking about adopting a cat. I adore cats, and also, if we’re being honest, I was a bit emotionally beaten down from working with a reactive dog for the better part of a year, and I knew a cat would be lower maintenance. So through a series of crazy perfect coincidences, I found myself bringing home a little white male kitten. He wasn’t getting along with his previous owner’s other cat, he needed a new home, and I adored his lil face in the pictures I saw. It was a bit overwhelming at first; it’d been awhile since I owned a cat. Within hours, though, he completely won me over and now I’m #blessed to be owned by this spoiled bb. This is Simon. He likes purring on my shoulder while I work.

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So. The first month of 2018 is basically over which is nuts. On January 3, I made a list of some goals for the year. Most of it revolves around experiences and connections.

Watching crappy reality TV will happen sometimes when I need to just relax, but I know I’ll be happy if I can get out there and do things and see things and create things as much as I can. I want to draw and paint, cook, read books about science, go to museums, journal and blog.

I want to keep in touch with faraway friends and family and make sure they know I care about them. I want to build more relationships in Utah by initiating plans, being open and positive in social situations, and building people up however I can. I want to be friendly to everyone I meet, from new friends and coworkers to service workers to people I pass on the street, completely let go of judgement, and always assume the best.

I also want to be fully responsible for my emotions and happiness and to take time to think about my own needs. I want to practice good stuff like eating healthy and exercising and getting good sleep, keeping balance and boundaries in relationships, speaking up for myself, etc.

I want to kick ass at my job. I want to take initiative to improve things when I see deficiencies. I want to be ultra communicative and present and focused.

Also at the end of the day I want to just keep living a joyful existence and if that means my goals change throughout the rest of the year, then I’m totally cool with that.

Love u all

XOXO gossip girl

until next time

Leah

<3

2018: feelin’ it

I haven’t had much time for writing on here lately, but I just wanted to make a note that I’m flying into this new year feeling amazing.

It’s been a HELL of a year and here at the end I feel open to whatever, excited to be alive, clear-headed, in love with everyone and everything. I have grown more in 2017 than any other year. It has been confusing and painful and scary and authentic and it has contained the most precious of my experiences so far in my short life. I feel like I am coming into my own as an adult, piecing together a confident and healthy view of how I relate to other people and things, and seeing things clearly for what they are — and I love it. I have a massive appreciation for just existing and experiencing the whole spectrum of stuff to do and feel and see as a human bein’.

st george marathon, year two

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I am a slow runner, but, girls just wanna have fun yu know? When I first started this hobby almost 3 years ago, my goal was to run 1 mile without stopping. Now I have 4 half marathons and 2 fulls under my belt. Running has become a consistent part of my life and I don’t see that changing. It gives me a place to think and reflect, it teaches me how to enjoy physical effort, it shows me that consistency makes all the difference, it makes me into a more energetic human, and it gives me a chance to participate in super fun events with friends and family. And the events always re-energize me to keep getting out there and putting in the miles. I’m p happy after this weekend.

Now I gotta go get some water, all this humblebragging is wearing me out 😪

it is your birthday

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I had a birthday. I’m a year older and wiser. It’s p good so far. These are some pictures from my weekend trip to my hometown.

I’m going to gush a bit and I’m positive that I’ll feel stupid about it later, but I exist and I’m here to do my thing and I guess part of that is talking about my feelings into the void of the public internet. ¯\_()_/¯

Another year passing makes me reflect on the fact that I actually like who I’ve become in my few years of adulthood. I can see clearly how everything I’ve experienced has contributed to who I am and where I am. And I’m excited that there’s a lot more time to experience more things while I’m around here on this big green blob of space dust.

My outlook on life for the past few months has been pretty worry-free and optimistic and stuffed with joy and love and realness and I am just enjoying it a lot. It’s like a daydream or an alternate reality that a couple years ago I never would think possible. For me, the tough process of breaking down some of the structures and expectations I grew up with has made space to define my own values and it’s turned my world into something bigger and brighter and more hopeful than before. More than ever, I feel like I can choose to embrace things that are actually important to me and honestly understand and connect with and appreciate fellow human beings.

So hooray for being more of a legitimate adult than I’ve ever been and having more wisdom than I’ve ever had (which isn’t very much). If I could go back and give my young self some advice, here are some of the things I’d say. But I don’t think it would change anything. It turns out most cliches are true, you just don’t really understand them until you’ve lived them.

+ be self sufficient above all else. never forget that you are one hundred percent capable of (and responsible for) doing things for yourself

+ your perceptions/beliefs aren’t the only way of seeing the world or living life. there’s a lot of value in genuine open-mindedness

+ pain and suffering and heartbreak and embarrassment don’t happen “for a reason”. they are just part of the human experience, whatever that means to you

+ move away from your hometown for at least a few years and figure out who you are apart from all the things and people you grew up around

+ find the voice inside of you quietly telling you what’s right, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re selfish for listening to it

+ be your own guy, do your thing, nobody else is gonna do it and nobody else actually even cares. you know you were born, you know that you’ll die, but the in-between is all yours.

+ you can give money to charity, aspire to change the world, volunteer, try to help a lot of people and have a lot of friends, etc. But one of the biggest differences you can make is just being kind, patient, understanding, validating, and present in the small moments and interactions with other people

+ take care of your body and mind. you pay good money to maintain your car and your possessions; it’s stupid not to invest in yourself too. sleep, healthy food, therapy, exercise, self-care.

Cheers to more living and a lot more mistakes and challenges and embarrassing cringey moments and successes and lessons and whatever else happens.

08/17

August is over! This month ->

I finished my scuba certification! If you’ve ever wondered what the bottom of the Homestead Crater is like, I’ll fill you in. It’s very dark and hot and the sand feels gooey and you can stick your hand up to the elbow in it and feel bubbles blooping up from the bottom. I think there is a sea dragon down there.

I went to my favorite developer conference I’ve ever been to! Such good talks and swag and people and food and of course javascript twitter celebrities! I was talking to the Gosh Damn creator of the Elm programming language for an hour over dinner before I realized who he was and also I met the author of my favorite Javascript satire article. I’ll stop there because this is getting painfully nerdy

I enjoyed the warm weather a lot! I had fun just about every single day.

I saw the Book of Mormon musical. It was so offensive and yet strangely not mean-spirited. How? “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” has been stuck in my head for weeks and I’m not mad about it.

I continued to marathon train. I’m not doing as well at it as I did last time, but I’ll finish the distance and have fun doing it.

I moved! Four blocks down the street! That was a whole thing. I was really sweaty that day. But then I took a shower and sat on the couch and everything was fine and the same except I was in a different apartment.

I experienced eclipse FOMO because I couldn’t make it to the path of totality. But seeing curvy shadows was still pretty cool.

I started getting into mountain biking. Someone offered me a trade for their pimped out Giant Reign and I couldn’t say no. Hiking on wheels is way hard and terrifying but also fun.

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This month’s playlist is pretty low effort and has too much Ty Segall.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/leahjlou/playlist/2iawnpxFqZofVVrj5YTn3y