Neverland

May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

I never want to leave here.

No. Seriously. Maybe not specifically here, but Montana for sure. Yes, it gets cold in the winter, yes the snow is ridiculous. No, I don’t care.

At all.

This is my happy place. My neverland.

Not in the sense that I don’t ever want to grow up here, but in the sense that I want to grow up here. I want to make this home.

I love the mountains. I love the people. The laid-back attitudes. The nonexistence of the rat race. The small town feel.

There is something particularly meaningful about meeting people through the tourist industry, too. Everyday, I meet people who are escaping their everyday lives, looking for a little fun, a little adventure. Conversations with them are easy; the basic “where are you from,” leads to stories and shared experiences. Subtle bonding.

Right now, there are about 8 people (3 girls and 5 guys) living at our dorms and we’re waiting for everyone else to arrive. The weather has been a little cold and dreary, so we’ve been taking as much advantage of any good weather we have as possible. Four of us toured the north loop of the park the other day and hiked to a few waterfalls, saw some wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, a bald eagle and a grizzly with 2 cubs.

Brogan, me, Angie, Tyler at the Lower Falls

And the people I work/live with are the best. Hands down. The group is a great size for “family dinners” right now so we’ve spent a lot of time together, all sharing the kitchen, the huddle around the fire after we eat, drinking PBR and sharing stories. We rafted a couple of evenings ago and the water was freezing. It makes me a little worried for raft guide training! And if we go into town to the bar, we generally go as a group. The group is full of college students, or kids taking a year off between college and grad school, or the occasional person just taking a break from their normal routine. Level-headed people, who know how to have a good time; somewhat different than your normal impression of a “raft-guide.”

The boys grubbing for brinner

Yesterday, was beautiful and I got to hike a little and enjoy a leisurely morning, reading on the porch. We had planned on bouldering in the evening, but the rain set in. So, we watched A River Runs Through It instead. Obviously, perfectly fitting for a night in Montana, curled up in sleeping bags in our movie garage.

Pardon me...

There is snow everywhere right now. Its crazy. When it melts, the river should be at about a 70 year high. Right now, that means, I’m really anxious to hike, but most of my favorite trails and taller peaks are snowed over. It also slightly increases me anxiety over guide training. Fun….

Norris Geyser Basin

Overcoming Hurt

May 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

“We have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. we have been created in order to love and to be loved.
” -Mother Teresa

How often do we compliment each other?

I mean really compliment. Deep compliments. Sincere. Spur of the moment. Unpetitioned. Maybe in a letter, an email, a text, a facebook post.

Probably not often enough.

But how often do we take them and remember them? Probably less often.

I spent last weekend with some of my high school friends and all of the mean things that girls said growing up came back to the surface. It was like a tidal wave on my already dilapidated confidence.

The “friend” who drew a picture of my zits in 6th grade and made fun of me because my shoes were from Payless. The girls who laughed that my nose would be bigger than Dallas when I was older because it was so big in 7th grade. The girl who told my date for an 8th grade dance that I didn’t want to go with him so that he would uninvite me. The girls that insisted my first boyfriend only wanted to “get some” (high school freshman terms) and he only danced with me because he was drunk. He couldn’t really be interested. (We dated for a year and a half from age 15-17.) The friends who put me down in front of the more popular, pretty girls so that they looked even cooler all through high school. The girls who told me my feet were so ugly that it would be a terrible freshman initiation for the girls on the basketball team to make them think they’d kissed them. The girls who told me I was “like twice [their] size.”

The list goes on and on and on.

Why do I remember these things? Why do they still hurt? Why do I still feel insignificant when I’m around these girls?

The funny thing is, is that after the hurtful things were said or done, somehow, it negates every nice thing that person says after that. Somewhere in my mind, I feel like people only mean the hurtful words. The kind words, the compliments are meaningless. Meant only as white lies.

Part of that is likely because of my family’s belief in brutal honesty. I love it because we know that we say what we do out of love. Yes, its often said in a way that comes across unnecessarily hurtful, but they love me anyway. So we say that an outfit isn’t flattering, or admit “yeah, you gained a little weight,” or tell each other we should opt for the apple instead of the cookie. I grew up in a family that said things that many would consider hurtful, in a way that was meant to help and backed by love. But with that background, a background of sincerity in criticism, I took all of the things everyone said seriously. Never able to blow them off as just girls being mean.

And so even when they’re corrected, the words hurt. They sting. They leave scars on my soul and bruises on my heart.

More than 10 years later, I still feel insignificant. Unwanted. Ugly.

Its these feelings that lead to my not eating through an intense basketball season and volleyball season in high school and getting up early to work out extra. Its this hurt that lead to the subsequent binge eating that packed on at least 40 pounds. Its these feelings that still lead me to pints of ice cream and bottles of wine when I feel upset. Overcoming these feelings will help me stop abusing myself through the cycles of eating, and not eating.

How do I overcome this? How do I foster enough self-love that what they thought, or still think, doesn’t matter?

I’ve decided I should write down the compliments. I need to reread them when I feel unwanted. I need to love myself. I need to compliment myself. Sincerely. Maybe if I reflect on the good things that others see in me, focus on the good things they say instead of the bad, I can learn to appreciate these things in myself; value you myself and treasure myself.

I need to discover reasons to love myself. When I get down my best friend makes me find at least one thing and say it out loud. I love her for this.

Even more, I need to notice the beauty in my friends and the people around me. Send them letters, emails, texts just to let them know.

Why aren’t girls uplifting, encouraging, inspiring. Perhaps if we noticed the beauty in ourselves we wouldn’t need to put others down to make ourselves feel better.

I found Operation Beautiful. I realized that I’m not alone in this. And as I read stories that others have posted, I notice how beautiful these girls are. Every one of them.

I realize that I love the shape of my eyes and the fact that I have 2 dimples on one cheek. I love that my body carried me through a half marathon, a duathlon. I love that I really am a pretty good cook. I love hair. My skin that tans easily. And the smile on my face that I just can’t get rid of…not that I really want to try to lose it.

I love myself. I will overcome the hurt that has been left from years of holding on to all of the mean things that girls have said.

An Operation Beautiful note.

What do you do to overcome the hurt? To love yourself?

A Birthday Full of Love

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

“You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.” ~Saint Therese of Lisieux

Its not a coincidence that I was having a bad week and, without a word from me or anyone who knew I was having a bad week, my friends pulled through. It was a blessing.

As my friend, Lauren pointed out when I related these events, “You were upset, you prayed, and God put you on everyone’s mind so they could take care of you.” Thanks, Lauren.

She’s right. This couldn’t have just been a series of coincidences. There were too many surprises and too many people involved.

RR, his gf, one of the Sunday Family Dinner boys (Grant), and me at a Rangers game

It started at Wednesday night softball: Bad night. I was just having a down day. Stressed. A little lonely. Made my Lenten Confession and the flood gates opened as I sat in the Sanctuary at church and prayed. Then, the genius decision to let law students play sports without officials and argue over the rules themselves led to over 3 hours of my team arguing with other teams that happened to be made up of my friends. Anyway, I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it and was noticeably down.

Who came to help me out, but my Practice Court partner. He shows affection by teasing me and often pushes it too far (to the point that he’ll even text me later and apologize and point out that he only does it because he loves me and I can take it. Usually). Anyway, it was completely out of character to ask me what was wrong and the pry a little when I didn’t answer. I’m glad I did fill him in a little eventually. He didn’t tease me during the game…which is good because I wouldn’t have been able to take it.

Me and the other 2 Sunday Dinner boys (Michael and Scott). Excuse the weird angle.


Then my moot court partner came out of nowhere and gave me a hug. Precious.

RR invited me over to chat with him and his girlfriend and his roommate, Bill. It was a much needed talk and it felt good to spend time with them. RR’s girlfriend, Leah, even promised regular hugs. And, now, it never fails, if I see her in the hall at school, I get a hug.

The next day, I had lunch with Ben (my Costa Rican travel buddy) which never fails to cheer me up. And spent a little time with the Sunday family dinner boys. Although, none of them knew quite how down I had been at the game, or that I just couldn’t shake it. It was just good to spend time with them all.

That night we had a dinner for everyone on advocacy teams which meant just a little more time with my friends. Then we all went to the bar. There, my friend, Adam, one of the only people here who had ever become friends with Cody, pulled me aside at the bar to tell me who much he admired me and how he felt like I’d triumphed. Ok, he was a little drunk…those were his words and they were far too kind. Really. But, I so needed to hear them last week! He went on and on. All I could do was be grateful for this. I mean, I’ve always been friends with Adam, although not that close. So this was unexpected, unwarranted, and completely flattering.

Me and Bill on a flying adventure. He was a pilot before law school.

Friday, I was still just moody. I mean, I even laughed at how I just couldn’t shake this mood. Still a little down and just frustrated with everything. I was driving to College Station to a surprise engagement/birthday party because one of my best friends was proposing to his girlfriend that evening and talking to Christa on the phone and just laughing about how weird and frustrating it was that I couldn’t shake it. Bless her for always listening to my neurosis. But, just a few minutes after I got off the phone with her, I got a text from one of the Sunday dinner boys that just said thank you for all that I do for them and that he thought I was really special. Really?! Out of nowhere. I almost cried just because it was the sweetest thing in the world (as a sidenote, to my knowledge, none of the Sunday dinner boys have found this blog so none of them had any clue that I wasn’t having the best week. RR and my practice court partner wouldn’t have said anything).

Anyway, just a few minutes later, another of the boys texted just to tell me that it felt weird not seeing me for a whole 24 hours for the first time in weeks and that we had to right this wrong by meeting up the next day. So nice!

And a few minutes after that, the last of the Sunday dinner boys just texted me some random song lyrics that are an inside joke. Random texts are the best even when they’re pointless. And no, the boys weren’t together.

I have the absolute best friends in the world. Hands down.

Then I got to have a nice long dinner with my sister and met up with some college friends who I hadn’t seen in ages at the engagement party. I tried to leave early, but they all convinced me to go out with them. And I’m glad I did. They’re amazing and just the kind of people you can’t help but feel happier and more joyful just being around. They’re just fun and uplifting. I was finally starting to shake my mood.

Me with Caroline and Dan. Best wishes to the newly engaged couple!!

Saturday brought a birthday party for one of my professor’s sons (who I babysit), bar-b-que and a movie with RR, his girlfriend, my friend Bill and his fiance. Then mass and brunch on Sunday with my professor and his family followed by a guitar lesson with one of the Sunday dinner boys, then dinner and watching the baseball game (Go Rangers!). Another guy in the dinner crew cleaned the kitchen. I went to bed infinitely happier at the end of the weekend than I’d started it.

Monday, out of no where, I got a text from my Practice Court partner just checking on me, I got to go spin class with a new girl friend and then on a jog with another, who kindly informed me that she considered me one of her best friends here. I got to visit with the girl who lives downstairs for awhile and got a sweet email from my college suitemate and dear friend.

So what’s my point? I was gearing up for today. Its Cody’s birthday. He’d be 27 today. So I’ll be making a trip to Carino’s, his favorite restaurant. Its the only real tradition I’ve kept and I’m not quite ready to give up on it. His family will be going in Victoria, friends will be going in Houston, and my brother and sister will be going in College Station. Even though we’re in different cities, there is an element of solidarity in celebrating the same way. And really, I’d rather celebrate today than the day he died. I’d rather celebrate his great life! So I will.

And I can do it with a smile because the past week showed me that I have amazing friends here who I am incredibly grateful for. I mean, I realize this all the time, but sometimes, we need the reminder not to take them for granted. And sometimes we just need to know that people really do care.

This week also reminded me of how necessary it is to send the random text, or call, when a person is placed on my mind. Its not a coincidence that I’m thinking of them and some small, seemingly insignificant action by me might even help turn a bad day around for them.

Seriously, sometimes I just stand in awe of how amazing these people in my life are. I don’t deserve friends like this, but I need them greatly.

Somehow, God made sure all of these things happened to gear me up for today. To snap me out of my bad mood just in time. And I’m in a great mood (despite having to study for finals). I’m ready to joyfully celebrate.

Spectrum of Emotions

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Our brokenness is the wound through which the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in God. Loneliness is not something from which we must flee but the place from where we can cry out to God, where God will find us and we can find God. Yes, through our wounds the power of God can penetrate us and become like rivers of living water to irrigate the arid earth within us. Thus we may irrigate the arid earth of others so that hope and love are reborn.” -Jean Vanier

Reminder: Being joyful doesn’t mean I can’t cry.

Being joyful, in fact, means its necessary to feel down, sad, depressed, lonely. But being joyful means I cherish these feelings as an intricate part of life. I can cherish these feelings along feeling happy, giddy, goofy. Going day to day without cherishing and utilizing a full range of feelings is like living in a world of black and white. It doesn’t mean the picture can’t be beautiful, but it doesn’t exude the additional beauty of shades of colors. Blues for sad times, yellow for happy. Green for contentment, Orange for restlessness.

As much as I talk about feeling the full spectrum of emotions, I’m often guilty of stuffing some down.

My best friend, Christa pointed this out to me yesterday. God bless Christa and her ability to call me out on my b.s. and make me admit to myself the things I so greatly try to push aside.

I called her a little upset yesterday. I had had a down afternoon, I went to church and sometimes, just sitting in the sanctuary and talking to God can do that to me. But, I’d also realized Cody’s birthday was just one week away. Particular days aren’t really a big deal to me, and I’m not much of a birthday person, so I couldn’t exactly figure out what was bothering me.

So, I went to my softball games hoping it would get better. It didn’t. They really shouldn’t let law students play softball (or any sport) without an official. Perhaps now that I’m the 3L Class President, I should try to change that : )

Anyway, we argued from the beginning about the rules and whatnot and it went on for three hours. We even played some of my best friends and I could feel the tension. I got teary-eyed. I DO NOT cry in front of people. Its like a rule. I really only have in front of a couple of people (aside from the week Cody died which I discount) and Christa is one. So I called her.

I told her I couldn’t figure out what my deal was. And, in true soul-mate fashion, she said, “I do. Wanna know.”

Duh. Of course I did!

She said, “You never admit that you’re lonely. Not even to yourself. But, you are. That’s ok. Its ok to feel that. You don’t have people there that you can talk to, you miss having your person. And then you ignore these feelings so when they come up, you explode.”

Did I mention that my best friend is a genius? She is.

I’m petrified to admit that I’m lonely because I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. There are plenty of single people. There are plenty of people who have been through worse. My life isn’t bad! Its wonderful, actually. Yeah, I have reasons to feel sad, but I’m grateful for those. But, the key is, I have to feel them!

But, sometimes I’m scared to. I need to be in a safe place. Alone. In church maybe. I don’t want sympathy or pity. Even though I want to be able to talk about Cody freely. I know, its confusing. I’m confusing. I admit it.

Honestly, I get scared to admit that I’m lonely because I don’t want to search for a relationship. Ew. I don’t want to be “that girl.” The girl that settles for anyone. The girl that just can’t be alone. Although, its been over a year and a half, so I think I’ve well-proven that I can be alone.

But, Christa was right. Its ok to admit that. I need to feel that. Sit with it. Write about it. Let it be. She also pointed out that its probably time for me to open up to someone here in Law School. Part of me stuffing everything in is that some people just don’t know about my past. Part of it is my desire to be treated like any other 25-year-old law student (notice: I didn’t say normal…we’re not).

Enter my friend, RR. RR’s brother passed away about a month after Cody did. We’ve both talked about our losses a little, but not too in depth. RR started dating an amazing girl awhile back so he has a person, a great caring, loving person, and to be a little honest, I’m a little jealous that he has a person to talk to, be open with. We haven’t talked much about our losses in a long time, but I’ve always known that if there was anyone here I could openly talk to, it was him. He could tell I was a little down at the softball game yesterday. I had made some excellent Tiramisu Tart the other day and I was going over to take he and his girlfriend leftover, so he said we should chat when I got there. Christa encouraged me to go talk to him. She knows there is only so much she can do from an hour and a half away.

Once I got there, we talked easily. I admitted that I’m petrified of Practice Court starting in the fall. Its the most intense time of my law school (we’re weird and make the 3L year the hardest. More like hazing. Oh, the love) and when I had decided to come here, I knew that it would be fine, because Cody would be here to take care of me. Dole out hugs. Tell me that I was good enough after a day of verbal abuse from a professor. I’m scared of going through that without him. Without a person who cares waiting for me at the end of the day.

I admitted that I miss having someone I told everything to. I miss having a person whose shoulder I could actually cry on. I miss my person. (FYI…”person”?? Weird word).

It felt good to admit these things. We had a beer, joked, talked about life in general and it felt good to say these things to myself and someone else. In fact, I feel lighter today having admitted them. Like a burden has been lifted. Its a few less people to put a face on for. A few more people who know the real me. RR told me that sometimes, feeling just a little sorry for ourselves and admitting these things is like the tail end of the grieving process.

I agree to needing to admit the feelings, but I still adamantly refuse to pity myself. For me, I’d rather celebrate that I have the opportunity to feel the full spectrum of emotions. I’m going to admit my true feelings. Feeling alone doesn’t mean that I feel sorry for myself because I’m alone, it just means that I am lonely. That’s it. Nothing more. And that’s ok!

Cherish these feelings. They leave room for growth, change. And when I’m not feeling lonely, I notice that too. In fact, its even better because I know the contrast.

The loneliness is a beautiful feeling. Bear with me. One day, I’ll be in love again. I’ll be with my family, close friends, Christa and notice how that loneliness is filled. When (if) I’m ever in a relationship again, it’ll be better for what I went through to get to it; for the fighting involved on the road along the way.

So I’ll celebrate all of my feelings, all of my emotions. They make me complete. They make me human. They make me better.

Dear Water, We’re Gonna Be Ok.

April 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” -Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

I promised you I’d tell you about my precarious history with that substance called water. Here it goes.

I have a love-hate relationship with water. I love some of the activities that take place on the water, like fishing for redfish in the bay, or floating down the Guadalupe on a hot Texas summer day, or boating from Rockport to Port Aransas to eat lunch, or surfing baby waves in Costa Rica. But, water…well, water scares me a little.

Ok. A lot.

I grew up fishing, riding tubes we pulled behind boats in the lake, trying to water ski a couple of times, jumping waves at the beach, white water rafting on family vacations, visiting Schlitterbahn water park, etc. I guess being in South Texas makes you want to cool down in water anytime you get the chance. But there was always some party of me that had a healthy respect for water and what was in it. Even swimming in the pool made me worry someone would let a shark out of some tank and it would come eat me. I didn’t say I was sane. But, I’m sure you knew I was a little crazy already.

I remember being out in the bay fishing with my parents and Cody one day about 6 years ago. My parents and Cody wanted to take the boat out in the Gulf, but we had to jump some breaker waves in the gulf to get to some smoother water. The waves petrified me. All I could think was that I was going to fall out of the boat, hit my head and drown. Clearly, this required our boat to hit the wave in such a specific way that I fell at some odd angle that my head would actually hit the boat. Then my family had to care about me so little that no one would come get me. So, the scientific odds of this happening were probably the equivalent to me having a blue child and conceiving without having sex. I mean that’s totally possible right?

I didn’t say my fears were rational.

My sister and I discovering we could float in the Adriatic Sea

But that didn’t keep me from freaking out. I tried to calm myself down, but I wasn’t too successful. Finally, Cody came to my end of the boat to check on me, could tell I was freaking out, and told my parents we probably shouldn’t go into the gulf. They, as usual, listened to him better than they listen to me. So we didn’t go that day. I let my fear get in the way.

Fishing for Cody's Memorial Fishing Tournament in Port Lavaca

A couple of years later, my family decided to go white water rafting outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. At this point, I liked the thrill, but I always got nervous. Water didn’t usually keep me from doing what I wanted to do, I just did it with immense trepidation. This was the worst rafting trip of my life. The guide was a little quiet and didn’t take control, they put too many people in our raft and the two losers at the front of the raft didn’t paddle.

Eventually, we ran up on a rock and our raft flipped. As the raft flipped, I fell, and the raft flipped so that it was on top me. No big deal, there’s an air pocket created, so I stuck my head up and took a breath. I rode under there for a few seconds, trying to keep my legs up so that they wouldn’t get caught on any rocks. Then, decided I needed to know what was going on, so I pushed myself out from under. In doing so, I pushed myself out the back-side of our overturned raft, so that it was riding in front of me down the river. I stuck my feet up and leaned back, as instructed, so that the flap of my life jacket could pop up. But, somehow I was going waster than the raft and the water swelled over my face. I was stuck under this pocket of water.

I began to panic and tried I tried to swim out. And tried some more. And tried some more. Well crap. I was stuck. At this point I wasn’t panicking, but calmly realized there was nothing I could really do. I tried a little more and then vividly remember thinking, as I looked up at the glare of the sun on the water over my face, “Well, ok. This is it. There’s nothing I can do.” As soon as I thought it, I felt myself being pulled out of the water. It was Cody…with a stunned look on his face. He told me to swim to the side and I did. We were picked up a little later, my sister had been scooped up by the raft behind us, my brother had stayed under the raft breathing in the air pocket until the guide told him to come out and my mom had swum out of the rapid to a calmer area. We were all fine and I was understandably shaken. I’m still pretty sure I could’ve died.

We got back on the raft, despite me not wanting to go any farther (I wanted to walk back) and I was still upset. We hit another rock and that did me in. No more. I wanted out. NOW.

The poor guide probably thought this 21 year old girl had lost her mind. I might have done just that. He dropped us off on the road side of the river and I scrambled up the rocks faster than that roadrunner on that stupid cartoon. And I felt that stupid. But, I was scared. I didn’t mind the walk back no matter how far (A park ranger ended up giving us a ride. Thank goodness).

Cody loved water. Never got scared. He stayed in the raft while my family walked back.

I became the person who held on even tighter on boat rides but I tried to be brave. Cody would look back and, without me saying a word about not being ok, and reassure me that I’d be fine. He, on the other hand, would take a little boat out in stormy weather. And be the one driving the boat, knowing just what to do, and reassuring everyone. Typical. And maybe a little crazy.

I hadn’t since then. Until this summer.

I was visiting my sister in Yellowstone and I met a friend of her’s who was a raft guide a the company I’ll be working for this summer. He invited my best guy friend, B, my sister and my sister’s roomie to go down the river on duckies (which are like inflatable kayaks) with him. B and I said yes, as did my sister’s roommate. But I was still scared.

The boys fell out, but the girls hung on!

It took a little coaxing and reassurance from my new friend, but somehow he had a way of making me think it was going to be just fine. And teasing me just a little.

So I went. I rafted again.

I might’ve hung on for dear life, but I did it. And got a little more comfortable in the water.

I think I was a bit of a daredevil on that trip. Climbing closer to waterfalls, bouldering, duckying. It was the result of the progression of managing fear that has come about since Cody died. I realized I don’t want fear to hold me back. I never did, but I mean it even more now. The worst thing that could happen to me at this point in my life already did. So what do I have to fear?

I’m not scared of death. I’m not going to go out chasing it, but some of the best experiences are found by not sitting on the sidelines. You have to jump in the game. Test the waters (pun intended). Push your limits just a little. I’ll never be absolutely crazy, but I’ll do some things that will ensure that I have a good story to tell. And I won’t let an irrational fear keep me from doing anything. Ever.

Those sharks in the swimming pool can just back off. (Please.)

Back to the story. Fastfoward a bit. The raft guide friend and I stayed in touch after I left Yellowstone and he invited me to West Virginia to raft the Gauley River with he and his rafting friends. I decided to go, but I still wasn’t quite up to rafting the intense part of the river. The Gauley is the 7th most intense river in the world. A 22 day rafting season because they only let the damn go for 22 days of of the year. And then people only take guided trips on weekends. And even then, people still die (I think there were like 8 last year…don’t quote me on that. I’m too lazy to look it up. In fact, don’t quote me on any of this. I’m that lazy). So my fear on this river was completely warranted. The Lower Gauley isn’t quite as intense, so I thought I’d do that half of the trip and then just hang out, hike and study while they did the Upper Gauley. My friend even suggested I watch some YouTube videos of “Gauley River Carnage” before I go. Let’s just say this didn’t calm my fears. At all.

But once I got there, the raft guides tried to convince me that I could handle this river. They were also quite persuasive on the point that it was a free trip (since they’d all brought their own equipment and we weren’t hiring guides…since they were guides themselves, we’d just ask for help from retired guides and know what lines to run). Plus, since I’d flown all the way there, I might as well raft.

I was on a sliding scale of likelihood all weekend. Survived the Lower Gauley-up to a 85% chance. Heard a story about falling out-down to a 47% chance. Saw some fat guy who had done it-up to 90% (yeah..I didn’t want to be beat by an out-of-shape old man). One guy told me once was all he’d ever do it-down to 75%. You get the picture.

I ended up being up all night thinking about it. Part of me really wanted to. I mean, I could say I’d rafted this awesome river. I could look fear in the eye and tell it I was bigger. Thanks, but back off. But, I was scared. Petrified.

Somehow, when the morning rolled around, I was as ready as I was going to be. Wet suit on, helmet in hand, we headed down to the river.

Then waited. (Lots of boat pumping and setting up to do).

Sending me into an emotional roller coaster so I just hung out with everyone and tried not to think about it. I saw all kinds of people getting on though, and it (sometimes) calmed me down.

I almost peed my wet suit I was so nervous. (TMI? Sorry.)

But, I got on the raft. I didn’t shed a tear. Once we were on, there was no turning back. And it was AWESOME. So much fun. I don’t know that I’m crazy enough to do it again, but I loved it. A total adrenaline rush.

By the end, we stopped to watch people go down Sweets Falls and I even jumped in and swam around in the current.

The Group after the Gauley

Maybe I had begun to conquer this water fear. The next time I went fishing, I was completely fine on the boat. Deep sea fishing in Costa Rica? Not scared at all. Surfing? Bring it on. Kayaking? Count me in.

Suddenly, I’m not that scared. Water and I might be ok yet.

Oh. And what am I doing this summer? Yeah. Whitewater rafting. Going through guide training in early June and I MIGHT even take a few rafts down the river as a guide.

When it comes to water, I’m not sitting on the sidelines and missing out on fun. I won’t be stupid, but I’m not going to let fear keep me from trying something. From finding a life experience. Overcoming the fear is what makes it fun. And really, what is courage if there is no fear?

Just Talk About It

April 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

“Know someone as much as you can. Hold onto the moments that define them. Then when their body leaves, they won’t.” – I Wrote This For You

Yeah, I’m talking about Cody on here a lot more than I used to. There are a quite few reasons why. Its usually not something I feel like people know/want to hear about. Mostly, I journal or write letters to him. Also, talking about Cody is a tender subject for most people, so to save all of your feelings, and talk about things more abstractly, I avoided it on here.

But, I haven’t been around people who easily joke about him and who he was in a long time. I haven’t been home in a long time. I’m not really homesick right now, (even though my sister’s blog almost got me there), but I miss the ease of teasing Cody with my family and remembering him.

I’ve also realized that while I love the new friends I’ve made here, most of them don’t quite know me yet. And I don’t want to hide any of my past from them, or from you, any longer. So let’s just talk about it. Let’s just talk about Cody.

He did the world’s best Ace Ventura impersonation. Fishing and I were in a tight race for his #1 loves; Fishing won out often. He thought it was hysterical to pull up beside you on the highway when he was in the passenger seat of the other car and act like he was running (it was funny). He was incapable of jogging; if we went running he got bored and just sprinted for a couple of minutes, then called it a day. Beer of choice-Bud Light. He kept his anger in until he exploded (usually provoked by me). He was more likely to show emphasis in guttural noises and “well, wooo, let me tell ya”s than he was to actually answer the direct question. The little fart was able to hide the fact that he smoked from me for a whole 5 and a half years (yeah, I caught you. I’m only kinda mad…mostly at myself for never catching you!). His bad posture could rival mine. He’d fight you about putting milk in your eggs. Giddiness ensued for the 48 hours before a ranch trip, a fishing trip, or a college football game. He loved family. Period.

Me and Cody

Cody and I in Las Vegas. Summer of 2007. Where he developed dreams of getting on the World Poker Tour.

Ok, so I didn’t tell you a whole lot of anything really substantive. But that’s not necessary. Its those little bits of information that might come up in a conversation that are necessary to say. I’m not going to remember him as some larger than life person, just because he isn’t physically here anymore. I’m not going to only remember the good things. I’m going to remember him honestly; as he was. I’m going to remember the Cody I knew, good, bad and indifferent. Because I loved it all.

Sometimes people will tell a story, maybe about fishing, maybe about long distance relationships, maybe about a guy’s participation in wedding plans, and I just want to contribute. But, I choke the words down. Maybe I’m just trying to be a “normal,” non-pseudo-widow 25 year old law student (yes…normal and law student are oxymorons. Bear with me). Mostly, though, I don’t want people to feel burdened by me. I don’t want people to feel like they have to sympathize. I don’t want pity. I just want to talk freely, openly, about a man that I loved, a man that has been in my life for over 7 years and a man who shaped who I am.

Its so easy for everyone to say “Well, my ex and I did such-and-such,” or “Well, I didn’t do that because my ex hated it.” Or whatever it is you wanted to say. I can’t even share those stories.

So now here’s the tough question: Do any of my friends really know me? If I don’t talk about what made me me, where I’m coming from, why I am who I am, will they ever really be my friend?

Cody and our dog, Kora riding around the ranch.

I’m not scared to talk about him. I don’t cry every time I say his name. I don’t think I’d talk about him to a point of unhealthy obsession (Sorry, Cody, I love you and all, but you know me better than that!). No, its nothing that needs to be discussed on a first date (not that I’d have one of those…that’s another story), or a constant topic. But, I feel people tense up if I say his name. They get uncomfortable, don’t know how to react, start to look at me like they forgot I was an alien. Nope, totally human. I think. Just with an interesting history and a big mouth.

A friend informed me the other day that I get less careful about how I tell stories about Cody when I’m drinking. So, I say something about him, people ask about him, and then they’re shocked if they didn’t know. My friend told me that whenever someone asks, “Did you know Kelsi’s fiance died?” his first response is, laughter and “Oh, Kelsi’s had a couple of beers. Where is she?” He laughs because he knows I’m fine, just more blunt than most people. His exact words about it were “You handle everything great, but everyone around you starts to freak out.” Freak out. That’s probably exactly what they do.

So, yeah. I’m cautious. Careful. Necessarily guarded. But I want my friendships to be pure and true. I want them to know me. I want them to know how my past, how Cody, how’s Cody’s death made me, me. Its become a sign of a true friend if they aren’t scared to ask me a question about Cody or can laugh when I tell a story…and maybe only look at me half-sideways.

I think I most valued the above-mentioned friend when he asked me if I thought he and I would be as good of friends if I were married right now. Honestly, yeah, I do. I had to explain how Cody had gotten quite used to all of my best friends being guys. Same way I got used to all of his best friends being girls. But, this friend’s courage in asking about a person he’d never met meant everything to me.

Engagement picture of Cody and me. Just because we both look nice-ish. 🙂

So maybe I should test the waters a little. Maybe I should be braver. Maybe I should slip in just one little tidbit sometime when I think everyone is ready for it. Maybe that bit of information will help the comfort grow. If not, I’ll have learned my lesson, but only in regards to that one friend. Then, as with everything else, I’ll put my head down and push on, looking for the friends that can handle me and my big mouth.

But, I’ll never share the story of how Cody proposed or show another man the ring. If I ever get married, I’ll probably tell my husband. He’ll understand why I didn’t tell him any earlier.

One day, I’ll meet a man who understands. One day, I’ll meet a man who wants to know about Cody because he knows that Cody helped make me me. One day, a man won’t look at me sideways when I tell him that I’m ready to love, but I’ll also always love Cody. He’ll believe me when I swear I won’t compare him to Cody or Cody to him. One day, I’ll build memories with someone new.

But, I’ll never stop being scared to just talk about Cody.

Perfect Love

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

I just found this and I had to share. I opened up my journal to write a few things down and this fell out. Coincidence? Probably not. Think what you will about God, faith, religion, spirituality. Its the fact that these things find me when I’m not looking that reassures me of God’s truth. Enjoy.

Perfect Love

“Everyone long to give themselves completely to someone. To have a deep soul relationship with another. To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But God to a Christian says: “No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me, with having an intensely personal and unique relation with Me alone, discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, will you be capable of the perfect relationship that I have planned for you.

You will never be united with another until you are united with Me, exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want to to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan exiting. One that you cannot imagine. I want to have the best. Please allow me to give it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things; Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I AM; Keep listening and learning the things I tell you. You just wait. Do not be anxious, do not worry, do not look at the things you want; you just keep looking off and the way up to Me or you will miss what I want to show you.

The one I have for you is ready (I am working even at this moment to have you both ready at the same time), until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life that I have prepared for you, you will not be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me, and this is the Perfect Love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most beautiful love. I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely, the everlasting union of beauty, perfectness, and love that I offer you with Myself.

Know that I love you utterly.

I am God. Believe and be satisfied.”

Nothing could’ve whispered so perfectly to my heart tonight. So believe or not, just let me feel satisfied that I was blessed with this comfort.

And I know that reaching that path to feeling satisfied with Him is something I’ll never accomplish on this earth. But, believe me, I want to try.

Isn’t this saying exactly what I said earlier? Patiently hoping.

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