Chicago

Horses into Sheep

As 2014 leaves us and we move into 2015, it’s only fitting to write about my past experiences as well as future goals. Of course, people will say it is cliche to do such a thing, or even to make New Years Resolutions. I think that if you want to make a change, and starting a new calendar off with those new goals in mind is how you accomplish said goal — go for it.

7194e47f33ba8ad070443c7ace9ff9e4That being said, my goal is a simple one. A resolution which doesn’t quite line up with my overall life aspirations for the year, but a simple change which I hope will have lasting effects. This year I plan to walk 10,000 steps a day, everyday. I’ve been good about this the past semester living in Chicago and I’m sure if I had recorded my steps in Rome I’d have been successful as well. However, in the past I have been driven by academic and work achievements at the result of neglecting my physical and mental health.

This has become very clear to me, demonstrated through my conflicts with family and friends. I know that when I am active, it gives my mind some time to wander and decompress. I’m not saying that I’ve found the “cure” for sadness, or that no one has told me this before. My doctor tells me consistently to exercise more, but I think it’s important that I am choosing my own plan to add activity to my life. With walking, I’ll seek healthy choices in other aspects of my life as well. I’ll sleep better, eat better, drink more water, and decrease my caffeine and alcohol intake. Again, all possibilities which may result from increasing physical activity but which are not my main focus in the New Year.

I think the reason why our resolutions don’t work is because we create goals which are too broad with strict expectations for ourselves. (I also think that simply telling people who make resolutions they are being cliche or will fail is a contributing factor…but that’s for another post 😉 )

fb0be63b21255436cb2a86ee387b9c54We tell ourselves to “lose weight” or “be successful” or “find inner peace”. None of these goals are impossible or outrageous to achieve, especially not in 365 days. But life gets in the way. We have one bad day and suddenly eating a piece of cake means it’s all pointless and we drop our resolutions. Quietly, only weeks in to the year. Our friends laugh at this failure, not in a malicious way, but regardless we understand that our resolutions will never come true.

At least, that’s what I’ve experienced. Maybe my resolutions haven’t been about losing weight, or eating a piece of cake, but I think this is a common story for many of us. Which is why I want to walk 10,000 steps everyday and only focus on that aspect of my physical well-being. I’m not asking my body to burn more calories than it takes in. I’m not even asking for weight loss or changes in my appearance. I only want to add physical activity to my life, any benefits of this change are bonuses.

So, what exactly did 2014 look like, then?

5080653cb017630255e53ba51138ade9Last year, I studied abroad in Rome for 4 months. I visited Vermont and the North Shore with my boyfriend. I lost my grandmother suddenly after an MRI. I lost some friends, whether through mutual or one-sided factors. I experienced improvements and digressions with my family. I’ve feared losing my dog, even though I know that this is inevitable.

I guess I could look at the last year and say it wasn’t great. Sure, I studied abroad, but this happened and that happened and I’m not any closer to my goal of “X” than I was on January 1st, 2014. And honestly (here’s the big cliche theme that you’ve all been anticipating!!) “2014 Danielle” let all those setbacks ruin all of the wonderful things I did accomplish and experience. Even up until December 31st, I was letting the man who made lewd comments or the woman who cut me off driving (or walking) or the lack of Instagram likes on a picture determine my worth. I allowed for minuscule events in my life to overshadow making the Dean’s List or securing early graduation or all the great memories abroad and last summer.

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I’m very open about my struggle with depression and anxiety, something I wish for everyone struggling with mental health issues to feel comfortable about discussing without feeling embarrassed or ignored. But I recognize that it took me years to get to this point. To tell friends, family, and complete strangers that my brain isn’t wired in the same way, doesn’t feed off of happy energy at a healthy rate. Instead, sapping all the happy feelings up and using them too quickly. My mood can plunge simply because my brain didn’t have any more endorphins or serotonin to circulate. I constantly seek that “moment” when I knew I was happy. Rather than enjoying happy memories, I think “wow, this is how it is to be happy… I wonder when it will happen again”, wasting those precious times. But, “2015 Danielle” (aha, here is the cliche) will continue to fight my body’s tendencies through action.

Most likely, I will still tweet about the lewd comments, still mutter under my breath at the slow walkers, and wish for more likes. But in the “grand scheme” of things … no one bad memory should alter my perception of my self and my abilities and my life. Of course, it’s day 3 of 2015. Someone is going to think or comment about how resolutions are bogus or always fail. But why should they fail? I have a healthy functioning body, I”m young, I have enough free time to walk around or skip taking the bus (I’ll miss you, 147) to class a few times a week. We all spend too much time waiting for things to happen to us, why shouldn’t we all aim to change our futures for ourselves?

I think I’ll be much happier knowing that this year was made better by my own changes in behavior.

X Danielle

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Chicago

New Leaf

I’ve missed writing, something that became a habit when I was abroad. Every time I think of starting my blog up again I remind myself that my life isn’t “so interesting” as it was when I was in Rome.

However, I think it’s important for me to see that my life is interesting. No matter where I am, my life should be something that interests me. Not in a self-centered way, but in a realistic manner. If you do not put enough love and attention into your own life you are not going to be able to love and attend to others. And that’s one of the main things I have learned so far this semester.

I posted earlier about losing my grandmother. Around this time last year, I lost my other grandma. It’s crazy how you can go from having all your grandparents and thinking that old age and death are so abstract to having only half of your grandparents left. 11 months ago, I had both grandmas. I didn’t see either of them often, they were both relatively young and healthy (for grandparents) and I was busy with work and school.

I can’t describe how abrupt these changes were nor how confused I was for so long. Since September, I have done a lot more thinking about my own life and my own values. I started missing my grandma(s) today so I called both my grandpa and my great-grandma to catch up. Every conversation matters now.

And not only with my elderly family members. We do not know what time we have here. It sounds grim, but I want to treat others as if this is the last conversation, last hug, etc. and savor every moment I have with those I love. Why should you treat anyone any less than 100%?

That being said, returning from abroad has shown me how little I meant to some people. I spent weeks depressed about it, questioning what I had done wrong or why they wouldn’t just explain to me what happened. Not because I really cared about the relationship, but because I want honesty and I would expect openness and honesty from people I used to value. Unfortunately, many of these people do not conduct themselves that way. And it’s hurtful, but I chose to move on.

If I am not treated with the same level of compassion and support that I give others, then the relationship is without balance and I’m exerting myself maintaining a friendship with a person who doesn’t care for me at all.

I am still hurt by this. I still want an explanation. And I still want people who have hurt me to develop a backbone for five minutes and tell me they’re “too cool” or don’t want to hangout with me because I”m consumed with hanging out with my boyfriend. But those would be lies and excuses that blame me for something they have done. Blaming my strong relationship with my boyfriend as the reason that you deliberately ignore my texts is a reflection of your own lack of integrity. And I do hope that those I’m indirectly mentioning read this. I’m not going to pretend otherwise, you have hurt me and I hope you know that. But I’m not going to try to confront you anymore because you do not have power over me and I will not give you any power by hurting me further.

Moving forward, I want this blog to be about happy things and my thoughts from day to day. If you’d like to follow along, please follow my blog 🙂 I am going to try my hardest to post more often.

I’m so excited to start writing again and sharing my life, no matter how many (if any) enjoy my posts.

I’m posting some pictures (unfortunately all iPhone…oops) of the past couple months.

San Diego:

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My dad participated in a hot wings challenge while we were in San Diego, it was one of the lighter moments during an emotionally draining trip. I can’t wait to see my parents again for Thanksgiving. I can’t believe I haven’t been home since August 5th!

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One of my cousins posed with my Canon. I can’t believe how grown up they are, I was thankful for this impromptu trip out West because I got to reconnect with some family I don’t see very often.

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Margarita station before sending off balloons for Grandma.

Chicago, again:

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Flowers my boyfriend bought for me, on the window sill of our apartment. These flowers stayed beautiful for weeks (I believe this picture was almost 2 weeks after I received them). They’re in my Danish beer can from Copenhagen. So glad I kept that

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Here’s a photo my grandma had hanging in her condo. My mom sent it to me in a care package a few days after I got back to Chicago. My San Diego grandma is on the left and my other grandma on the right. This photo was taken around 1997. It was one of the few times both grandmas got to meet. They were both so young and beautiful. I miss them.

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Luke and I went on a last minute date downtown to my favorite pizza place, Lou Malnati’s. I appreciate every moment with him, face-to-face, after months of long distance and hectic schedules, even living together we don’t have much time together.

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This is the best part about my apartment. View of Lake Michigan on a fall morning about two weeks ago.IMG_3187

Here’s a pretty tree I saw on the way to a game at Northwestern. I am hoping to share more beauty in future posts, and hopefully of better picture quality.

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Lastly, this is the new motto I wrote on the board by our front door. I hope to adopt this sentiment and I think I’ve been making progress recently. Life is so short and it’s necessary to be selfish in part, because you are living your own life. I want to make sure I am doing what I need to do to be happy before I can focus that energy on others. Surrounding myself with supportive friendships, my family, and spending more time relaxing and reflecting are what make me happiest and what I will continue to do.

X

Danielle