The Power of a Semicolon

I have never been so open about my mental health as I am now that I have my semicolon tattoo. I’ve talked about my depression to those I’m closed to, those I want to help, and those who need to hear a story that could maybe give them some hope that it does get better.

IMG_9288I got my semicolon tattoo a little over a month ago and I didn’t think I’d be ready to talk about my journey with mental illness but the moment someone asked me about what it means, I felt this huge weight be lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I was finally ready to be okay with my depression, my anxiety, and my recently diagnosed PTSD.

For those who don’t know about Project Semicolon, it’s a international organization with a mission to prevent suicide by providing a forum for people who experience mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, BPD, addiction, suicide, postpartum, schizophrenia, dissociative personality disorder, and eating disorders.

It’s become a worldwide movement to destigmatize mental illness. Their website says, “Project Semicolon is an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives.”

Recently, their founder, Amy Bleuel lost her battle with depression and passed away from suicide on March 23. She was 31. On her about page, it reads, “After overcoming many obstacles in her life including bullying, rejection, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, Amy has found strength and a love for others. Amy struggled with mental illness for 20+ years and has experienced many stigmas associated with it.”

Honestly, getting this tattoo felt so freeing. It felt like I was finally going to be able to tell my story and not be ashamed of it. It gave me power.

 

I got diagnosed with depression shortly after I turned 13 in May of 2012. It’s been just over 5 years now and it has been the wildest journey I’ve ever been on. I have gone through 3 major depressive episodes, suicide attempts, and I struggled with self harm for two and a half to three years and I have always, for as long as I can remember, struggled with eating. I recently got diagnosed with PTSD stemming from years of sexual abuse as a child and emotional abuse from relationships.

I got my semicolon tattoo as a way to remind myself that I made it through some of the worst struggles I’ve ever been through. I was able to make it through self harm, abuse, and major depressive episodes and I still managed to graduate high school, continue dancing up until junior year, get into a good school, and maintain a relationship.

It’s not easy. Mental illnesses are a bitch. They are really hard to manage without proper help and depending on the severity of some, it’s tough to be in healthy relationships with friends, family, and partners.

My semicolon helped me heal in a way I didn’t know I needed to. It allowed me to put on my body, “Hey I went through this, but I’m okay. I’m going to make it. I’m going to follow my dreams and build a life for myself. I went through all these horrible things but I made it out. If I can, you can too.” And that’s something I never thought I would be able to do.

I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of the person I am, of the woman I’m becoming, and of the girl I was. I can’t say I’m happy I went through what I did, but it made me into the person I am today. It’s crazy to think but I wouldn’t be who I am without the trauma I’ve experienced and truth be told, I wouldn’t want to change anything. I’m stronger than my mental illness and I’m determined to make it through.

 

If you’re going through anything and you want to talk about, please, feel free to reach out to me. I am always here to talk, to listen, to help in any way I can.

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Unexpected & Inevitable Change

Going into senior year, I didn’t think that by the end of it, this is where I’d be – moving houses while also trying to move across the country, in a serious committed relationship, and moving to the east coast instead of the west.

I didn’t know what the next 4 years were going to look like and I sure as hell didn’t think I was going to end up in North Carolina, but here I am. Ready and so excited for my next chapter.

I always knew I was going to go to college. For a long time, I wanted and hoped and dreamed with every inch of my tiny body that I would be a UCLA Bruin, though in the back of my mind, I always kind of wondered if I would end up staying in Colorado. My grandpa is a die hard CU Boulder fan and I grew up going to football and basketball games almost every other week.

And yet, here I am, 2 months away from college and I’m going to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study Criminal Justice with a minor in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights – totally not where I thought I would end up.

People ask me all the time why I chose to go 1,356 miles away from home and to be totally honest, most of the time I lie. I tell people that it’s because they have a great criminal justice program – and they do – but the first reason I chose that school is because of the girl I am so lucky to be in love with.

Some might think it’s naive to move across the country for a person that I’ve only been dating for a year, but in all honesty, I’ve never felt more ready to do something in my life. I am fully committed to Morgan and to loving her and supporting her through her lacrosse journey and I couldn’t be more excited to be in Charlotte because I love it so much. The city fits me perfectly, and that’s just an added bonus.

Going through high school, you always know it’s going to end. You count the days, you get more and more excited as you go through the years because you’re so ready to leave. Though, as it ends, it gets kind of scary. The last 4 years are all you’ve known and all you can dream about is the next chapter of your life. This change is inevitable, you can’t stay in high school forever. Even though you know what’s coming, you’ve been ready to leave since the day you walked in, there’s still this really intense feeling of anxiety and wondering what it going to happen next.

This year put me through a lot of unexpected change. My family had no idea that we were going to have to move out of a house we’ve lived in for almost 10 years, one we for sure thought would be our forever home one day. We didn’t know we were going to have to move within 60 days of finding out we can’t stay in our house and I sure as heck didn’t think that we were going to end up in a townhouse but I also wasn’t sure where we would end up at all.

After junior year, when Morgan and I started dating, we had no idea what our relationship was going to entail. I didn’t know that a week after we became exclusive that she would commit to play D1 lacrosse in South Carolina. At that time, the thought that we wanted to go to schools completely across the country from each other didn’t run through my head. I didn’t know that after a few short months together, I would know that she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t know that the next year would have so much adventure, and fun, and love, and sadness, and twists, and turns. I didn’t know that I was ready to change my whole life for someone but when the time came, it felt like something I had to do, and I chose her without a second thought.

Change is weird. It’s foreign, it’s scary, and it can be intimidating. I’ve learned that, for the most part, I do okay with change. It’s not my favorite thing in the world but I can adapt. I’ve learned that sometimes choosing a love that you’ve never had with someone who gets you like no one has before is easier than choosing a school.

Though I didn’t get into UCLA, and to be totally honest, I wasn’t really counting on it, I think that if I had, I still would’ve chosen Morgan. I obviously can’t say for sure, but I am so beyond excited for my next chapter in Charlotte. I am so ready to follow my dreams, even if she is a human being with a cute laugh, a scrunchy nose, and a niche for weird memes and lots of naps.

I am nowhere near where I thought I would be, but I’m also not mad about it. I actually couldn’t be more ready for the fall.

 

Senior Year… Yikes

Oh gosh. When they said that high school flies by, they weren’t kidding. It really does feel like just yesterday that I was walking in – late, by the way – on my first day of high school.

It’s very weird to tell people that I’m a senior because I still feel 12. I get excited about new Disney Channel movies and when I can have ice cream, but at the same time, I’m 17, running my own business, and looking at colleges? It’s all very surreal.

Though, I definitely feel the pressure that comes with being a senior – applications, scholarships, grants, financial aide, the whole nine.

I’ve always been the type to plan everything. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was a kid, with a dream school in mind, and the following 20 years after high school thoroughly planned out. But. I learned very quickly that life happens and things change and people have the power to change everything you thought you wanted.

So, in all honesty, I don’t have a single clue as to what after high school looks like. I know what I want to happen, but things can change in an instant. I have back up plans for back up plans but what I’ve realized over the past summer is that planning doesn’t mean anything. You could have every hour planned out by the minute and it could blow up in your face. The best thing to do is just go with the flow. So that’s what I’m doing.

I can promise to you, whoever you are, and to myself that I’ll do my best to make the right decision for me. I won’t sacrifice myself or my dreams for anyone or anything. I am pursuing my dreams. It’s just a matter of how at this point. We’ll just have to see.

As far as senior year goes, I’m done already and it’s been 3 days. High school is exhausting and I’m over it, so I’m just doing what I can to make the best of it. It’s a very short period in my life that I will remember forever. It’s been crazy thus far. I can only imagine what this year will bring.

I have no idea what the intention of this post was, I guess I just really want to get back into writing about what matters to me. Like I said, life happened and my blog got lost in translation. It’s coming back though. I’m determined.

Here’s to senior year and to the unknown adventure that is the future. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride.

Happy Heart: California Day 6

I can’t believe that day 6 was my last full day in California. It feels unreal. This week went by so fast and I’m no where near ready to say goodbye, or even see you later.

Over my time here, I’ve just fallen more in love with this state. It’s kind of been a reassurance that this is where I want to be, need to be. I’ve never felt as happy, as free, as at home, then I do here.

Day 6 was really fun though. Elijah and I hiked near the Hollywood sign and you could see all of Los Angeles. Walking up to where we ended up was a mile Processed with VSCO with c1 presetand a half, but it didn’t feel like that at all, and you wouldn’t believe it with the view that we had. From up there, it all just seemed so peaceful. While we were up there, it dawned on me that I fly home the following day and my heart just sank into my chest. I just took the time to reflect on my week and all that we’ve done. I want to come back soon and see all the things I didn’t see. I just want to be here.

After our hike, we went to this hot dog place called Vicious Dogs. They have a bunch of weird but so tasty hot dogs. They’re kind of like the Marco’s of California – more adventurous, just as good.

When we finished up there, we drove back to the house and hung out for a little bit before going on a drive that seemed like it took forever to get some fish tacos. The place was called Neptunes Net. I’m not gonna lie, I had their shrimp tacos and they were pretty good. But I most definitely think the ones at BJ’s in Boulder or at the Pumphouse are way better.

When we got home, Elijah, Lily, and I played Uno. I actually won a game! Correction, I won 2. I feel pretty accomplished.

I layed down in bed after the game and it really dawned on me how much I don’t want to leave just yet. I feel like there is so much more to experience and Colorado hasn’t felt like home in a really long time – since we came here last year, if I’m being honest. I feel more at home here, in California. I can see my life here, and if it were up to me, I’d uproot it now and move out here to finish high school. As much as I love my family and friends, I’d still do it. I just feel so much happier here. I think that’s the hardest part about leaving now. I’m going back to a place where I’m not as happy as I could be, as I should be, as I want to be.

I just want to say thanks to Scott, Bobbi, Elijah, and Lily for letting me stay for a week and answering all my dumb questions about whether they have Kroger’s or Safeway’s. (Out here it’s apparently called Vons?). Thanks to Hazel for only liking me when I have food. It may be a one sided relationship but she’s one darn cute dog. Thanks to Sophie for always running from me like I’m going to eat her, but letting me scratch her chin when she’s laying on my bed. I’m really gonna miss your porch and writing on it in the mornings. In all seriousness, thank you for opening up your home and welcoming me into your home with open arms. I’m so beyond grateful.

This has easily been one of the best weeks of my life and I will always remember this trip, and not just because I blogged about it. I can’t wait to feel this feeling of happiness and home again. I hope to come back soon. I don’t know if we’re doing anything on my last day, but we shall see. I’ll still blog about it anyways, so stay tuned!

Bruin at Heart: California Day 5

Day 5 was easily the best day and a huge reason why I came to California in the first place. I toured my dream school and further validated my desires to be a Bruin.

Anyone who is even remotely close to me knows that the University of California: Los Angeles has been my dream school for the longest time. I’ve known since the day I knew what it was that I wanted to be there, that I IMG_0255belonged there, and that I could live there and call it home. I don’t know if anyone knows the feeling you get when you just know something feels right, like it’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, but walking that campus, that’s exactly what I felt. Looking at all the architecture and the people, hearing about the classes and the events, I was picturing my life as a prospective student at the school of my dreams.

Even driving to the campus, I had butterflies. I really had been waiting for this moment for so long. It’s one of those things that I’m always going to remember, whether I become a Bruin or not. Our tour started at Pauley Pavilion and my tour guide’s name was Ryan. He was born and raised in Denver, which put a huge smile on my face. As we started walking the campus, I got lost in it all. It’s so much to take in. The campus, on it’s own, is already so magnificent and incredible that all the little things that I loved and things we talked about, just further added onto my desire to be at that school.

I really, really, more than anything, wish that I could put into words the feeling that I had when walking the campus, but I don’t know how to explain it unless you’ve felt something similar. It’s like your whole world stops. You’re life isn’t even really your life anymore because you’re so lost in this place. I wasn’t even thinking about the rest of my junior year, the fact that I have a AP Gov project due on Monday and I haven’t touched it, or the fact that I still have a year of high school left. All that mattered was the fact that I could see myself studying in the libraries with a study group. I could see myself laying in the grass in the sculpture garden, reading a book, or doing some homework. I could imagine myself loving every moment of the events – from the bonfire, to orientation, to concerts, to games.

It’s insane how at home I felt. I feel it every morning when I wake up here, but it was so much stronger at UCLA. I could feel my heart trying to beat out of my chest, out of pure excitement for what my future could hold. I’ve never been so excited to go to school. I hope to be a Bruin.

Anyways, when we got back to the car with my feet soaking wet, I called my mom to gush about all the great things and tell her all that I could remember. After the tour, it was a pretty relaxed day. I just wanted to take it all in. I just hung out and watched movies before we went to dinner at a place called Hook. It kind of reminded me of a healthier, more modern, has fish Steak’N’Shake. I got the grilled chicken caprese sandwich. It was delicious.

When we got back from dinner, I continued to watch movies and Lily went to lay on the hammock. After being out there for awhile, I checked on her and next thing you know, I’m almost dying trying to lay in my first hammock. Lily and I started talking about a bunch of random things, such as the rat that lives in their backyard, and decided that we were going to watch the movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It is one of my favorite movies and I knew Lily had to watch it. I won’t say anything further because I really recommend watching it and I don’t want to spoil anything.

After the movie, we played this other board game called Smart Ass and I have come to the conclusion that I just suck at board games. Although, I do very much enjoy hanging out with Lily. She is such a cool and weird person, and she’s incredibly funny. We’re alike in the sense that when we’re in public, we don’t talk much. But when you actually sit down and have a conversation with her, her wittiness and her true personality comes out, which I love. When I said she is one of the coolest girls, I definitely meant it.

Day 5 was a good day, a happy day. I’m so excited for my future and what it has to hold. I have so many dreams and plans and they are slowly but surely becoming a reality.

New Friends Ronnie and Nancy: California Day 4

Day 4 was one of my favorite days. Bobbi and I went to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. I’m such a nerd about those types of things. I was so excited and it fulfilled everything I thought it was going to be.

IMG_0244When we first got there, there was a guy who was carving in the wall.
He was a professional stone carver and as we walked throughout the whole library, you could see that he carved everything in the library. Stone carving is such an underrated art form.

When I bought my ticket, I got a sticker. This may not be exciting to many, but I love stickers so much. It’s now stuck to my laptop and I am very happy. IMG_0246Anyways, when you first walk into the museum, there is a huge quote from Ronald, and then you walk down the hall and there is a to scale statue of Ronald and Nancy. Insert picture of me here. As you walk through the library, you just go through Ronald’s life. His family heritage, his high school life, college life, and when he started his dreams of becoming an actor. You walk through his journey on radio and his love for Nancy – which, by the way, is one incredible love. Fun fact: Ronald wrote over 720 love letters to Nancy in his life. Even after years of marriage, he wrote her endless love letters. I want that love.

There are so many different exhibits to just walk through his life. There is one that is dedicated to his attempted assassination, one to his campaign with Bush, one solely dedicated to Nancy with a bunch of her clothes and things.

IMG_0250The way that I thought about it was like walking through his biography. You learned about who he was as a person, as a politician, and as a husband. They had his clothes and his letters, his quote book, some of his china from the White House, anything you could think of. It was so incredible to see his life and his love.

I think it was just really eye opening. It’s easy, as people and as a nation, to IMG_0252forget that presidents are actually people, with real lives and emotions. You are
quite literally walking through his life with his belongings and his feelings, letters, diaries, clothing, costumes, speeches, scripts, suits. I wasn’t alive – obviously – during his presidency, so I was very intrigued at the
type of person he was.

Anyone who knows me, also knows that when we were in San Diego last year, we visited the USS Midway and that meant a lot to me and I thought it was such a cool experience. So seeing Air Force One, another huge part of the library, was awesome. I’ve fallen in love with aircrafts a little from my visits. Where the airplane is in the library, is also very cool. (I feel like I use pretty generic words, but I don’t know what else to say other than how fricking awesome it is). There IMG_0253is a mural on the wall that is called The History of the Flying White House and it has paintings of all the past airplanes. Going on the actual Aircraft is something I think everyone should try to do. There are workers that stand on the plane and give you a little insight, as well as props and mannequin to give you a real feel of how the plane functioned. Fun fact: the first time the plane ever took off, it was someones birthday and there wasn’t a cake. After that, Reagan made it a point to know every birthday, anniversary, or event worth celebrating and there was always a cake on board to celebrate with. He always presented it himself, too.

Before we left, of course we had to take a selfie with our new best friends Ronnie and Nancy. IMG_6246

After we got home from the library, I had some amazing Belgian waffles. A little later we all played Ticket to Ride. Lemme tell ya, I hate that game when it’s with more than 2 people because it’s so much harder to win. Scott won by a lot and I was upset but also happy that at least it wasn’t Elijah because he’s won every game that we have played.

When we were done playing, I finished up the movie Vacation and off to bed I went. I had to get up early for my exciting day 5!

She’s Got a Ticket to Ride: California Day 3

Since being here, one of my favorite things to do when I wake up is sit outside and write my blog posts. It’s just nice to be outside while I’m writing. It helps me think and it feels good to not be in a house.

Lily had school so we had to take her to her class – she only had to go for an hour or so. So, Bobbi and I went to a little shopping/food plaza type place.

There, we had cupcakes from Sweet Arlene’s, which is a company that has won Cupcake Wars – the show on the Food Network – 3 times! I had a red velvet cupcake because you can never go wrong with those and it was heaven on earth, I swear. The cake was so moist and fluffy, not crumbly at all. The cream cheese frosting was so sweet and fit so nicely with the cupcake. If I could eat one of those cupcakes every day for the rest of my life and I would be happy.

After getting cupcakes, we walked around and just window shopped in all the IMG_0227different places that were there. It was very flowery so I was taking lots of pictures. On our way back, there was a dog outside a shop! It was so adorable and so lovely. I looked down at it and asked if I could take it’s picture and it just sat down and looked up at me. By far one of the cutest moments.

When we went to go pick up Lily, we were a little early so we went down to this part of the little area that her school was in where there were ducks! I took a few selfies with them. There was a swan there too, and it was curled up on itself, napping. There was also a mom who was sitting on her babies! I am such an animal person so I was having the time of my life.

When Lily was finished, we decided to go to Beverly Hills and see the sign and take a picture because why not. So we drove down and Lily could not figure out IMG_0239how to work my camera, it was so funny. But, we finally got the picture and I think I look pretty decent. After that, we decided to get some food at an Italian restaurant that they used to go to a lot because Elijah had acting classes near it. I got a salami and provolone croissant sandwich and Lily and Bobbi shared a alfredo linguini. It was so delicious and they had wonderful bread with vinegar and oil. I love food.

When we got back, I got to lay down for a bit before heading to Elijah’s dance class! He teaches 2 hip-hop classes and he let me sit in. I had a lot of fun watching him teach and watching tiny people dance. I think that’s one of my IMG_0225favorite things in the world. During his classes, he was so tired because he didn’t have any coffee that day. So me, being the nice person that I am, walked to a Starbucks and got him coffee. Elijah is a talented dude, lemme tell ya. I know a lot of talented people and every time I see them do something they love or something they’re passionate about, it warms my heart. He is one of the funniest, most down to earth people I’ve met, so it’s cool to see that portrayed in his classes and the way he teaches. Props to you my friend.

After we finished up there, we walked to that same Starbucks and hung out for a little before we got picked up. We just talked about life and various things and then we drove home. Elijah was also very determined to play a new game that they had gotten called Ticket to Ride. It took us forever to get it up and running because we were talking so much but when we did, we yelled at each other and in general a lot because it wasn’t always going the way we wanted it to. We ended up playing 2 games and he won both of them. The first one by a long shot and the second one by 3 damn points. I was hurt, so say the least.

Between games, I made Elijah take the Myers-Briggs personality test so we could see what type he was and we read through all the components that the test lets you read about when you’re done. It took forever but it was cool to see what he related to and what he didn’t. By then it was 3 in the morning and we wanted to play another game. We ended up just playing and staying up for another 2 hours just talking about life and the different components to it. I love deep talks like that with good people because it just makes things so much more wonderful. You get so much insight on a person. I learned a lot about Elijah and he learned a lot about me. Furthering my respect and admiration for him.

My heart and soul is so beyond happy in this state, IMG_0230I can’t even put it into words. It sucks more than anyone could understand that I have to fly home soon. I wish I could just live here forever. The only thing I could never get over, though, is 3 dollars a gallon for gas.

Route 66: California Day 2

After getting some much needed sleep with some heavenly pillows, I felt a lot better about being in California. It had been a bit of a rough first day, but overall, so much fun. I couldn’t be more excited for day 2!

We decided to go to Santa Monica Pier. It was a bit cloudy and there was a wind, but nothing us Coloradans can’t handle. It was actually really funny to see people really cold and I was in shorts and sandals. I had a tank top on too. I wasn’t bothered at all. The difference between here and home is that when it’s windy, it’s more often than not a cold wind. Whereas, here, it’s a warm, humid wind. Even more so at the pier because it’s right on the ocean.

For those who don’t know, Santa Monica Pier is the end of Route 66. It starts inIMG_0205 Chicago and goes all the way through the country, and ends in California. When you get to the pier, there’s a huge sign that tells you it’s the end, and once you walk to the end of the pier, you’re over the ocean. In Bobbi’s words, “It’s the furthest west you can go without falling into the ocean.”

On the pier, there are so many different shops and food places and souvenir venders. Many more than needed, but hey, they gotta make money. The first thing we did when we got to the pier was get churros. They were like a foot long and so sugary, it was wonderful. Also very fluffy. Easily, one of the best churros I’ve ever had. Costco is a close second.

There is also a little theme park – Pacific Park. Lily loves the rollercoaster there so we decided to give it a whirl. I would give it a solid 6 out of 10. IMG_0192It wasn’t really a huge rollercoaster, but it wasn’t the mini ones for kids at fairs. It was a medium. The ride itself, wasn’t bad at all. I personally thought the end was much better than the beginning. It had one of those fast – though small – drops that make your stomach do weird things. I’ve always liked that feeling, so solid 6 to that coaster.

I’m a cheesy tourist type and love to have little souvenirs from everywhere I go. Or just IMG_0188things to hold onto that remind me of that time I went to that place and did that thing. Though, with an uncommon name like Veronica, it’s hard to find things with my name on it. But apparently names like Viviana, Guadalupe, and Juan Pablo are all VERY common names. As shown by the shell bottle. Not going to lie, I was a little disappointed, but I ended up getting a small turtle made out of shells with glasses and a hat. I was satisfied.

We walked to the end of the pier and hung out there for a bit, looking at the ocean, enjoying some solid cotton candy. We took some pictures, many of which, my eyes closed and hair frizzy. Next thing you know, there’s a seal! It was just swimming around below us, definitely begging for attention and showing off. We were mesmerized for a quite some time. But we quickly came out of it when this stupid siren thing went off every 3 minutes.

As we made our way back to the end of the pier, we went into Bubba Gump. IMG_6220I’d never been to or heard of Bubba Gump before. They had a little shop as an extension of the restaurant. There was a stuffed animal shrimp magnet that I was very tempted to buy, but I didn’t. It was a long drive back and we hadn’t eaten anything but pure sugar, so we sat down and ordered some garlic bread and a sampler appetizer. They had hush puppies, what they call Peel’N’Eat shrimp, chicken tenders, and chips with a spinach dip. All very good except the chicken tenders, they had a weird sauce that I wasn’t too fond of. I thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant and the vibe that it had. Very cool, I must say.

We drove home and hung out for a little bit before we headed into Hollywood to go to Elijah’s stage reading. None of us had ever been to a stage reading before so we didn’t really know what to expect. But wow, was it amazing. The play was called Looking For Normal. It’s about a man named Roy and his wife Urma and a big change in their lives. Roy is transgender. He finally tells his wife after 25 years of marriage. The play is about how it affected their daughter, Patty Ann, and their son, Wayne – played by Elijah. It’s a heartbreaking yet honest portrayal of the real lives many people in the transgender community experience. I cried like 4 times. It’s based off the book written by Jane Anderson and after that play, I most definitely want to read it. Everyone on that stage was so talented. That doesn’t even seem like enough to describe them, but they are. It was a phenomenal show, even if it was only a staged read through.

On our way home, we stopped by a Walmart so I could get some makeup remover wipes because I had forgotten to pack mine. Lily went in with me and it was super weird. We got to the cosmetic department and everything was locked behind glass, like how they do with game consoles and expensive things. I asked someone to get me a package of wipes and when she did, she put it in a plastic box for me to take to the counter. It was all very weird, but I got my wipes and that’s all I wanted.

We finally got home at about 11:30 or so and Bobbi made a salad. I had some and then off to bed I went. Day 2 was a lot of fun and I can’t even put into words how happy I am to be here.

Thanks to my mom for being so wonderful and allowing me to make this trip. She’s my rock and my best friend. I’m the luckiest girl.

Reaching New Heights: California Day 1

By the end of my first day in California, I was so over-exhausted, sweaty, and missing my pup at home. It was a bit of a rough day, to say the least. I woke up at 3:46 in the morning to finish my last minute packing and head to the airport for my 6:45 flight. My flight wasn’t horrible, expected turbulence but a smooth take off and landing.

Arriving at LAX is what killed me. I haven’t traveled out of state by myself since I was 14 and even then, I wasn’t as anxious. That airport is a mess and I’m a mess and we didn’t mesh well. I ended up sitting at the airport for 2 and a half hours. I cried and then called my mom crying and then hung up and cried a little more. I was anxious about being by myself, waiting so long, and being away from my mom. A lot of my anxiety came from just being so tired and honestly, I’ve missed my mom since she let go of our hug at the gate.

After getting in the car though, with a good family friend Bobbi and her daughter Lily, I relaxed a bit. Still hungry because all I had was an orange juice and a hash brown from McDonald’s at 5 in the morning, but I felt safe, and that’s an issue I really struggle with. As we made our way back to their house, I got settled. We drove through Santa Monica and there were amazing murals – we’re heading back for day 2 so more pictures and details to come.

Then, we got on the Pacific Coast Highway, and that’s when I got happy and rolled down the window and stuck my head out to let my hair blow in the wind. It was a warm wind, not the cold kind that makes your ears wanna fall off. The palm trees and the billboards and the weird shops and food places, I just felt an overwhelming feeling of calm and happiness.

When we got back to the house, we had a great pasta with a tomato basil sauce and then went for a walk in a state park by the house. They had used it for old Western movies and there we little placards to tell you
which movie was shot in which spot. As we continued the walk, there was a movie lot where they were shooting something which was so cool.

IMG_0156After that, we came back and just cooled down from the 96 degree weather, and
then our family friend’s
oldest Elijah, decided that we should go climb a rock to see all of the little community that they live in.While I almost lost my life a few times, the view was so incredibly worth it.

When we finally made it down – not without a few scares though – Elijah had a play to go to that he was performing (we’re seeing it all together on day 2 and I couldn’t be more excited) and Bobbi and her husband Scott went to a concert so it was just me and Lily for the night. We decided to bike to a cafe not to far from their house. I think I exercised more in that day than I have in a long time because of my knee but it felt good! We got back, hot and sweaty, and we decided to watch a movie. She had never seen Pitch Perfect 2 so we decided to watch that. When we finished, Lily and I just talked about life and school and a bunch of different stuff. Easily, one of the coolest girls.

It was getting pretty late and I decided that I was finally going to go to bed. I’d been running on 4 hours of sleep and ended up being awake for 23 hours straight. When I got up to my room, though, there was a bug, and if anyone knows me, they know that I don’t sleep with bugs. Nope. Not my thing. Normally, I have my brother come kill them but I don’t have that luxury here. So, I decided that the most logical thing was to lay on the floor at the top of the stairs until everyone came home to someone could kill it. Lily came and sat with me which was super wonderful and I showed her my blog and some of my pictures and my friends and just kind of let her see into my life a bit.

Finally, they all came home and Elijah came to the rescue, killing the bug.

Overall, the day was so fun. It was really warm and sunny, everything you’d expect from California. I’m so happy to be here, I feel so at home. My mom told me something when I was sitting at the airport. I don’t know if she was just saying it to make me feel better about my anxiety, but either way, it stuck with me. She told me that I looked like I belong here and that put a smile on my face. This is where I want to be, it’s where my heart is. I’m so excited for the rest of our days here and I can’t wait to blog about them all.

I can’t say thank you enough to Scott, Bobbi, Elijah, and Lily for welcoming me with open arms and loving me like I have been here for years. Even though it’s only been day 1, I’m the luckiest girl to be surrounded by such cool and weird people.

Saying Goodbye

When I was 13 years old, at the peak of my depression, self harming so badly, just wanting to end it all, I never thought for a second that I would ever make it to 14, let alone 17.

I remember on the first day of junior year, when I got home from school, I just cried. I broke down crying of pure happiness and shock. The 13 year old in me was so proud. At that point, I just couldn’t believe it. That feeling has carried out through this year, especially.

This year – junior year – is what I like to call The Year of Change: Part 1. Growing up, this is the year that everyone kind of dreads and also talks about how important it is. It’s the one where you have to start deciding and planning your future. You have to start looking at colleges, and writing essays, and applying, and volunteering, and making sure your grades are in tip top shape.

Senior year is what I call The Year of Change: Part 2 because it’s the year where your planning and all the things you’ve spent the last 18 years preparing for, is a reality. I’m not quite there yet, but as this year begins to end, it becomes all too real.

I’m in such a weird place in my life right now. I’m in the process – a very long and tiring one at that – of redoing my room. So many people ask me why I’m redoing it and spending all this money if I’m just gonna be gone in a year, and well, I’m not really sure. I think that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m a whole different person from who I used to be and I wanted a room that really showed that.

This past weekend, I finished painting. The room that I’ve had since I was in 4th grade, is now a whole new room with a whole new identity to go with a whole new me.

Around 7th grade-ish, I decided to paint my room. I was in love with the color purple so I begged my mom to let me paint, and finally, she gave in. So we painted my room purple and boy was it as purple as it could get. It had purple curtains, sheets, walls, pillows. Basically, Barney puked in my room.

As I finished up painting it a new color, I became rather nostalgic and sad at the same time. When I finished, I just stepped back and my room felt new and refreshing. The way I see it, this room doesn’t hold any emotion, only potential for new memories and feelings and journeys. My old room, though, held so much. I went through some of the hardest things in my purple room. I went through the peak of my depression, the beginning and the end of self harming, I struggled with eating and my body image, I cried, I laughed, and I fell apart so many times.

It is the craziest thing in the world to see how far I’ve come.

In this whole process of redoing my room, I feel the need to say goodbye to who I was. This room is no longer the room of a depression, anxiety-ridden 13 year old girl. But is becoming the room of a strong, independent, ready for the future, almost 17 year old, and that’s really exciting to me.

I will never forget the person that I was, simply because she made me who I am today, but I am far from that girl. I am so ready for my future and what it has to offer, I am excited to see where I go, and loving my life so much. I am the luckiest girl to have such great people in my life.

To the girl I was, thank you. You’ve taught me so much. Not only how to be a better friend, a better person, and a stronger woman, but you taught me how to fight, how to let people in, and how to ask for help. You will always be a huge part of who I am, and I am forever grateful for the things we learned.

I don’t know that anyone understands how proud I am of myself to be sitting here and writing this post. My 17th birthday is a month and 19 days away. I never thought for a million years that I would make it this far, and the fact that I did is so astonishing to me. I couldn’t be more proud and excited. I cry often at the thought of making it to junior year. I can’t wait to be a senior.