Monday, December 30, 2013


Last New Year's, I was thinking a lot about beginnings. I know now that was because I hadn't had any in years, and there was a lot I needed to seek out. What I didn't know at the time was just how many new beginnings were in store. A new city. New friends. New opportunities. New experience. New perspective.

I'm proud of how open I was in 2013, how much new life I let in and how much I risked for it all.

But this year, as "the countdown" approaches, I'm feeling differently. I've been thinking about what, exactly, it means to make a resolution. Many people make them on New Year's Eve, but I think the introspective among us are always resolving.

But what does that really mean? 

I love versatile, yet powerful words like resolve. To have resolve means to be bold and courageous, steadfast and earnest. To exhibit willpower, intention, and purpose.

In medicine, to resolve means to heal. 
"symptoms resolved after a median of four weeks"

When talking about something seen at a distance, to resolve means to turn into a different form when seen more clearly, to transform.
"the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns"

When dealing with problems, to resolve means to find a solution.
"the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days"

In musical arrangements, to resolve means to move from discord (confusing or harsh sounds) to concord (harmonious sounds). To, quite literally, move from chaos to harmony.
"the song resolves from dissonance to consonance near the very end"

When dealing with decisions, to resolve means to firmly choose a course of action.

In chemistry, it means separating something out to distinguish between its parts, or to make sense of something by putting it on a spectrum.

It can also mean placing a vote to express a formal opinion, or dispelling doubt by clearing away the inflammatory or unnecessary. 

All of which feels a lot like what I need to be doing and being in the coming year.

Her eyes are light and clear
And fearless like Chicago winds in the winter time
And her hair is never quite in place
And the knees in her jeans have seen better days
And she's no beauty queen but you love her anyway
She's a wildewoman

Yeah, she'll only be bound by the things she chooses
-Lucius, Wildewoman

Here's to resolution. 2014, we have our work cut out for us.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Epiphanies, Volume III

Volumes I & II.
  • Are you ready? Get ready, because I am about to blow your mind. Ready? Tootsie Roll-flavored coffee creamer. Am I right? I would buy that in bulk. (I Googled it. It doesn't exist. But I did find a recipe for a Tootsie Roll drink based on vodka, so, you know, win.)

  • Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." He didn't say, "Examining your life is one route to achieve happiness." or "You should stop and examine things from time to time." Nope. He said a life without reflection is not even worth it.  This is thinly-veiled justification for my over-thinking tendencies, I admit, but damn, that's some statement, Soc. 

  • On that note, Pema Chodron's notion that "Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know" is blowing my mind recently. 

  • The United States spends less money on cancer research than it does on potato chips. Think about that next time you buy a $.99 bag of Lays.

  • Winter in Chicago is no joke. It's either gonna toughen me up or make me so crabby that I just start running in the south/west direction. So far the latter is more likely. I shall arrive bundled up beyond recognition--and then I'll be crabby because I'll be too hot. In the event that this happens: West Coast friends, please gently remind me to remove my scarf. (This sweatshirt made me laugh.)

  • Music that is perfectly acceptable for treadmill purposes suddenly seems fourteen kinds of inappropriate when it comes on in other settings, like the bus, or, you know, the office. Also, 'Sup Diddy, where ya been? I've sort of missed you. #butseriouslyLudafolife

Monday, December 16, 2013


  • I slather my hair in a gooey concoction of honey, mayonnaise and olive oil on the regular. That is not the confession. The confession is that I actually believe 100% that it works magic on my hair. I have a lot of beliefs about hair. 

  • Sometimes I wonder who would see my Google search history if I died. And by 'sometimes', I mean 'nearly every day'. And by 'wonder', I mean 'worry about'. Let my headstone read: 
                               Here lies Bobbi Marie. 
                               She was a very curious person.

  • Sometimes I wait for a second elevator in the morning because I like to be alone until at least 10am if I can help it. 

  • A random guy at Trader Joes asked me what I'd do if I won the Mega Millions (In retrospect he was hitting on me, but--confession within a confession--I can never really tell I'm being hit on *while* its happening...). Anyways, I told him I'd buy an island and just live the life, and maybe an airplane so people could visit when they wanted. But, really, the first thing I'd do (while my island sale is pending) is buy this dress  and throw a Gossip Girl-esque party. And you would all have to wear masks. No exceptions.

  • The second thing I would do is throw a ton of money into private detectives so that the people from the Craiglist ad could have a second drink.  And then I would do something about this.

  • Whoever I marry will need to be cool with me wearing that dress on our wedding day, because, seriously, purple > white any day of the week. Besides, as Miranda said so eloquently, the jig is up

  • I know that show is seventeen kinds of ridiculous, but good god, I am so thankful for friendships like theirs. You know, the kind where your phone call ends with: "God, could you imagine if someone was listening to this conversation?" "Well, the NSA is, but oh well. Screw 'em. They'll laugh their a$$es off."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

30-Before-30 Update: Donate My Hair

As I've mentioned before, part of the fun of checking things off my goal list has been looking back at my frame of mind when setting the goal and seeing how things have changed.

Before my health issues, it was just a 5k.
Before the back-to-back deaths of two close loved ones, it was just a tattoo.

I wasn't sure I was going to write about what changed surrounding donating my hair, but I think it's important to share.

When my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was my family's first experience facing the loss of someone in my parent's generation. My dad could barely get the words out; I can still remember where we were standing in the kitchen when he told me she'd been diagnosed, how he covered his mouth with his hand like he wanted to keep the truth muffled. I was proud of the way he stepped up; retired, he could accompany her to chemo appointments and visit with her while she recovered.

My aunt Vicki was always made up--she always looked really beautiful, hair coiffed, mascara just so. She was terrified of losing that. I was terrified to watch it.

My mom predictably sprang into action mode and arranged for her to try on real-hair wigs. I felt like it was an honor to be there, so met them at the salon, where our family hair stylist had arranged for her to try a few options.

The first one was vetoed--too Dolly Parton. We laughed and tried the second. I thought it looked beautiful; it was her color, it was shiny but real, and since it was real hair you could modify the cut a bit...what more could you ask?

Her face emitted hesitation, and we tried to convince her that she looked great. Tears welled in her eyes and she was silent; it was clear she was conceding to her new reality.

I think it was my dad who suggested she try on the third option, which everyone had kind of brushed off as "not Vicki". As the stylist secured it on her head, she looked up into the mirror and her hand rose to her mouth: "Oh." The tears that had collected fell. It wasn't her typical cut, but for some reason she looked like herself. Most importantly, she felt like herself. Her new reality seemed a little less scary, a little more familiar.

When I first declared I wanted to donate my hair, it was in a general, this-is-something-I-can-do-to-help kind of way. It's become a lot more than that. I want someone else to have that moment in the mirror: "Oh." A little less scary, a little more familiar.

 I mean, I totally win Movember, right?

Here's where I get real and tell you that I almost didn't go through with it. Dating is hard enough as it is--you can go from confident to vulnerable with one delayed text response. Was I really ready to give away one of the only things I'm truly confident about?

But I went through with it because even if I might struggle to feel like myself for a week or so, it's going to grow back. I didn't have it taken from me without my will. I didn't have to stare down death while having my identity and femininity taken from me piece by piece.

And a wise, extremely beautiful woman once taught me that a little mascara and some good friends can go a long way in making you feel like yourself.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quoteworthy: Vulnerability

I often have to have written about something before I understand it.

It's what makes me good at my job--I essentially write about things I don't know about for a living. I gather morsels of information in the research portion of a project, and by stringing the words and paragraphs together, a fully formed idea inevitably emerges. I don't know what it's going to look like until it's finished. It kind of feels like painting sometimes, working on the strokes themselves and later backing up to see the big picture. I don't think I'll ever be able to teach it. It's just how I've been my entire life, thanks to some really great teachers, and since it works, and it pays my bills, I know when to leave well enough alone. I don't question it. I just write, and things make more sense.

In my early twenties I recognized that writing could help me process things in my personal life as well. Only a few years ago, around the time I started this blog, did I really force myself to write as a vehicle for sorting things out. If I had to guess I'd say I only post about 10% of what I write--outside of work, of course. There are a lot of drafts in my Blogger account, a lot of Word documents on my laptop. I've got a lot to sort out still.

I am telling you this not only because I think it's important to recognize our strengths, but because it's the only way I can explain my biggest weakness. Because with this blessing comes a curse.

The world doesn't communicate the way I'm wired to, not on an interpersonal level.  In relationships, you can't hole up in your bedroom and work things out alone on your laptop. You have to be able to work things out in real time. You have to meet another person half way. You have to address things piece by piece, before the larger picture emerges, if it ever even does. You can't play to your strengths because everything has to be on the table. You need to hang in, be open, be vulnerable. Your emotions can't just percolate in a Word document somewhere. You have to share before you're ready to. Life is unpolished. Messy, even.

And before there is even a chance to have to "work things out", you have to be open enough to enter a relationship. And before you enter a relationship, you have to be open enough to be seen, truly, by someone. To know and be known: the precursor to loving and being loved.

I don't have to tell you how risky this all is. I don't have to tell you how much it hurts sometimes, how terrifying it is. There's rejection. Opposition. Conflict. A thousand wounds to be opened. A hundred new ones to avoid. We all know this. It's the human condition.

But I've been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately, how necessary it is. Excruciating at times and definitely pushing us out of the ol' comfort zone, but necessary. I'm learning in this season of my life that even if I get hurt, even when the wound still smarts and I have to rally my girlfriends or cry it out in the shower, being vulnerable has always been worth it.

There is no reward in being closed off. There is no merit in keeping yourself hidden. Vulnerability is the key that unlocks a lot of doors, doors behind which there are a lot of good things: Love. Support. Friendship. Not being alone with your thoughts.

I didn't realize that was the point I was getting at until I finished this post, which tells me I have a lot of work to do. But maybe I'll try to edit a little less intensely this time around.

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life--and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." --Georgia O'Keefe (Speaking of painting...)

"Vulnerability sounds like the truth, and feels like courage." --Brene Brown, the vulnerability expert

I got a hunger and I can't seem to get full
I need some meaning I can memorize
The kind I have always seems to slip my mind
But you, but you
You write such pretty words
But life's no story book
Love's an excuse to get hurt
and to hurt --Bright Eyes, A Lover I Don't Have To Love (<--Phenomenal cover)

How come the only way to know how high you get me
is to see how far I fall? --John Mayer, Heartbreak Warfare

Open: (adj) allowing access; not closed off; being in a position to permit passage 

Synonyms: free, expansive, unobstructed

Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quoteworthy: Detours

I've got about 6 months left until I turn 30, and despite every effort to just 'be cool', I find myself needing reminders that April 13 is not an expiration date, it's not a deadline, and it's not a finish line. It doesn't even really have to be a milestone if I don't want it to be.

Because I've kind of come to realize that milestones are a bunch of hullaballoo.

It's human nature to look around and wonder if we're aligned with certain norms or certain timelines--careers, investments, relationships and babies. You know what I'm talking about. We're quietly satisfied and relieved when we hit these marks, but we struggle to be happy with what happens in the meantime. Life. The living we do. The mistakes we make. The surprises that are in store.

And maaaaaybe by "us" I mean me. Historically, I've been pretty terrible at weathering the detours.  

In a recent email, my friend Allison offered a new way of looking at the happenings of my life: What if they were not defined by my feelings about them? What if they weren't normal or abnormal? What if they weren't even poor choices or good choices? What if they simply proved that I was living?  No matter what, that had to be a good thing.

It took a while for my type-A brain to process that. It couldn't be that simple, could it?

Take my house for example. I bought it because I needed to do something to feel like I was making a life in Marquette. Fast forward two and half years, and I decided that was no longer the life I wanted. Then I spent the first six months in Chicago beating myself up: How could buying that house not have been a huge mistake if its no longer what I wanted? How could I have gotten it so wrong?

But you know what? She's right. Life happens. Goals change. You buy a house and then you don't want to live in it anymore. And that's okay, because you change course, and you rent the sucker out and you move to a new city and you find a life waiting for you that was beyond any of your expectations. But, plot twist!, mixed in with the awesomeness is this new strain of struggles that you didn't anticipate and you realize that expectations are a bunch of bologna, too. Timetables and goals and what you thought the future would look like... it's all a mirage and it changes and here's the most surprising part about it:

It's so much better that way. 

The really beautiful part of it all is that I want the life I have now more than anything else I ever wanted before. (Maybe I need to chill with the wanting a little bit?) This really beautiful life I have is kind of messy, but the mess is so much better than the vision.

The mess hurts sometimes, yes, #likeabitch. I fall for people I have no business falling for. I say the exact, precise wrong thing at such a remarkably wrong time that there ought to be a medal around my neck, but then sometimes I really nail it and that feels really good. I struggle to communicate my needs but when it happens, and I'm heard, man, strike up the band! I rely more on my parents than I'd like to, but really, I think it's time to admit that I will always need them, and I think they like to see my name on the caller ID, regardless of why I'm calling. I still haven't learned how to gracefully accept support and advice, but you know what? Grace is a bunch of malarky as well.

A majority of the time it feels like I'm in over my head, but somehow I manage to pull it all off, sans Xanax. The mess is...messy and sometimes it feels like I have no idea what's next, but right now is so much better than anything I could have ever conjured up.

I'm trying to learn that it's okay to take risks, to fall easily, to speak up, to lean on others, to fail--it's okay to do all of those things. Those things make me a human--one that isn't closed off or playing small. What's not okay is measuring myself against fabricated timelines or expectations. What's not okay is beating myself up when plans change or are stalled or fail completely. Because that's usually when things get the most interesting.

You tell me that the hardest part of living / is living in the moment 
You turn around, your moment is gone 
It may come down to a decision / to change the way you're living 
The only way to live it / is to give it everything that you've got  --Mike Moran, The Difference

"If a train does not stop at your station, then it's not your train." --Marianne Williamson 

All you want is what you can't have
and if you just look around, man
you'll see you've got magic
So sit back, relax, enjoy it while you still have it
Don't look back on life, man, and only see tragic
Because you can be better than that
Don't let it get the better of you
Life's not about what's better than --John Butler Trio, Better Than

"And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." --Max Erhmann, Desiderata
Well I never seem to do it like anybody else
And maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
But if you ever want to find me I can still be found
Taking the long way around --The Dixie Chicks, Taking The Long Way Around

Detour: (n) an indirect or roundabout course to a destination

Destination: (n) the end of a journey or voyage

Have a little faith, Bobbi Marie. The best and most unexpected is yet to come. Take your time getting there.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bobbi Lately

Every time I feel compelled to write a Bobbi Lately post, I realize the seasons are turning.

I had an incredible summer in Chicago, filled with lots of drinks on patios and lots of shenanigans with some impossibly fun people. I definitely found my groove these past few months and it all involved a lot of saying 'yes'. Yes, I'll meet you for brunch. Yes, let's check out that festival. Yes, I'm game for three nights in a row (#YOLO). Yes, yes, yes.

As the weather has started to turn cooler, I can feel myself pulling back a little. Maybe it's the new apartment, having a place I actually want to hang around, but maybe it's also that I'm feeling a little more comfortable with my life here. I don't have to say yes all the time because the invitations will keep coming even if I say no, I'm staying in on Friday. I can lay low without the dreaded #FOMO. 

So, I'm looking forward to a calmer fall. Having girlfriends over for dinner. Taking Henley on chilly runs down my new running path. I bought a Groupon for 30 yoga classes for $39 at a studio called Yoga for the People, and I can't wait to see what kind of hippie dippie stuff my instructor Dmitri has in store for us. Also: Tights! Boots! Sweaters! Mittens!

 Me too.

I think there is something to be said for being in a happy place in your life. Namely, that you don't long for other seasons. You can walk gracefully into a new season without worrying if you savored every last drop of the one you're walking out of. As my dad would say, that's clean living.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I sit back in my desk chair, and let the whole thing go blurry: Two computer screens, countless printed Powerpoints, two notebooks with my cursive-print blend feverishly scrawled every which way, a vibrating cell phone with four new messages of varying significance. My Outlook and Gmail inboxes are pulled up like twin secretary soldiers: At my service, filing away messages for instant recall, business to the left, party to the right.

In my earbuds, more words:
Your smile is a drug / that I can't afford / mmmm, anymore
You're a tongue-tied talker with sleepy eyes / That always gets the last word
You're not broken / You're just tired / and it shows

I focus in on a lengthy email from a colleague--a term I'm still getting used to. She's providing information that I requested, but I have no idea what her answer means. I open up a reply window and think about how to ask for clarification in the most succinct way. I save it as a draft. I don't want to create more confusion.

I check the text messages--a request from a tenant, a two-word reply to my multiple sentence inquiry, a code from Macy's for a sale on a made-up holiday, and a vague "let's get together soon" from someone with whom I will not be getting together--soon or otherwise. "Sure thing." Hesitation. Delete. Delete.
To say I'll be alright would be a risky bet
'Cause I'm about as good as I'm gonna get, uh huh
These chains are tight / and that courage that I showed 
Left a long time ago / Just so you know

I take a deep breath, try to exhale as much as I inhaled. I let the screens go blurry again and rub my temples.

Sometimes it feels like my entire world is built on words.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flaws: A Manifesto

As I got back into the dating game this spring, I tried to set a mindset that was open and, to be frank, wouldn't set me up for disappointment: It's a number's game, so the more people you sit across the table from, a) the more chances you have of finding who you're looking for, and b) the more chances you have of narrowing down what you're looking for. Also, c) the more free vodka sodas you score.

Idea B is a slippery path, though. Sure, the more people you date, the stronger your conviction becomes that, oh, I don't know, an entire month is an unacceptable amount of time between phone calls. That's good. That's called Realizing What You're Worth. See also: Realizing that you'd like someone who has a permanent job, is a good listener, is interested in topics north of your ribcage, can have a somewhat engaging conversation without chugging 8 beers, and doesn't call you Sugar on the second date (or, really, preferably, ever). (True story, people. I cannot make this stuff up.)

But if you start really narrowing it down (zero relationship baggage, no commitment/trust/insert-insecurity-here issues, always on time or early, never loses his cool or forgets to say thank you to waitresses, etc, etc, etc), I'm fairly confident you'll start missing out on some really great people.

How did I realize this? By over-thinking it, of course.  Duh. Whose blog do you think this is?

I thought about my family and how often we fail each other by losing our tempers or pushing each others buttons. They let me fail over and over without ever letting it change how much they love, respect and support me. I realized that having flaws and accepting flaws is what love is. It's essentially the definition of grace. Working to bring out the best in someone and helping to ease some of their burdens is essentially the definition of partnership.

I started thinking about the other people in my life that I really love. I started with my best friends because I hope my husband will be my bestest of all my best friends. I realized that I love those girls and guys because they are so beautifully flawed. They have the most endearing idiosyncrasies and mind-boggling tics. They make these gorgeous mistakes that turn into remarkable lessons for others, or, sometimes, turn out to be the best things that ever happened to them. Sometimes those mistakes prevent other, far worse mistakes or put them on a different, more genuine path. Sometimes when they get knocked on their asses and call for advice, they are their most divine selves. It seems the farther they fall, the better advice they have for me, and the more clarity they have for how to move forward and thrive in this crazy world.

I hope my future husband is flawed like that. I hope that he has made some whopping mistakes and that his life has been an unpredictable road of twists and turns. I hope he messed up something so bad that he's become the cautionary tale for his friends: "Don't do what I did--but if you do, call me. We'll sort it out!"  I hope he has a lot of almosts that push him to try again later. I hope he's been pushed to the max so that he has some sense of what he's made of...but I hope he's got some surprises left for himself, too.

I hope he's been humbled, criticized, supported, championed, and vilified, because that's what teaches you when to do which to others. I hope that he has gained the wisdom that only heartbreak can teach and has already set to work on narrowing down what he is looking for. (Oh, he's looking for an almond-eyed brunette that manages to oftentimes jump in feet first despite over-analyzing just about everything? He's looking for someone who hasn't made her bed in 15 years, who sees no reason to shut cabinet doors if you're just going to open them again, whose primary mode of communication is bullet points!? God, Future Flawed Hubs is so specific, I love it.)

In all seriousness, it was the Sugar guy that stopped me in my tracks: "I'm really into challenging people. It's the only place growth is born." Oh, uh, you have a point there...sir. You can't really challenge someone who's perfect (or thinks they're perfect). Where's the fun growth in that? I'm down to grow; the Universe knows I need it. (But really, the cupboard thing must be genetic or something...)

Allow me to get one giant step even further ahead of myself and pontificate about children for a moment, too. I hope my children are so beautifully flawed that you can see the cracks from a mile away. I hope that they falter and teach other people lessons. I hope that they doubt themselves at times so that they learn how to trust themselves. I hope they let people down so they can fully taste the monumental impact of forgiveness.

I'm going to try my damnedest not to hold their hands too tightly or wipe away their tears too quickly. I hope they are too empathetic and too generous, and I hope that at times this is the source of their pain; it means that they overshot in the best possible way. I hope that they get the chance to enrage and be enraged by someone so intensely that they fall in stubborn love and can't walk away even though they're not sure why. (Everyone deserves this excruciatingly beautiful experience, don't you think?) I hope their hearts break just enough to realize that there is suffering in this world that is far, far worse than anything they'll ever know. I hope that they fail miserably at something they thought they'd ace so they can understand that it isn't talent that makes you, it's sweat and preparation.

What I am trying to say is that I'm realizing lately that our flaws are what make us loveable because our flaws are what make us real, and what makes us real makes us human, and our humanness is where connection stems from.

I hope that it doesn't take me too much longer to find my person, but in the mean time, cheers--to your flaws and mine. I mean, hey, free vodka sodas!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


  • I think that I am having a full-on third-life crisis. What other excuse is there for being down-and-out obsessed with a 17-year-old pop singer with a song called Tennis Court--about going down to the tennis court and talking it up like YEAH (yeah)? That's right, there isn't any other excuse. I'm having a crisis. 

  • I find myself mimicking accents back to people who have them. This does not bode well for speaking with my British coworkers. I can't bloody stop! 

  • I fear I am too old for takes longer than 4 seconds to focus my eyes on that random comment you scribbled across that blurry photo.  

  • I really love sitting in the portion of the bus that swings back and forth when you turn corners. It kind of feels like a theme park ride on my way to work. (I am such a nerd.) 

  • I avoid medications like the dickens, so I've never had to titrate any meds to get the dosage right. I know this is the right decision because I'm pretty sure that there's about an ounce of a margin in my coffee intake that moves me from sufficiently energized and "can-do!" to manic and slightly reckless

  • I know, I know, I know, I know. I'm going to regret saying this when my feet are numb at the bus stop in February, but today is the day that I proclaim that I CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE OF THIS HEAT.  

  • I have had 20-minute conversations about hair with three different co-workers within the last two weeks, and I find this perfectly reasonable. If you ever want to gab about hair, I'm your girl. Just be warned that, like just about everything, I have a lot of opinions about hair.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Silver & Gold

I'm sort of a broken record, I realize, but life really...hits me when I'm at the intersection of the new and the old, or the good and the bad, or the progressive and the familiar. It's like I get hyper-aware during periods of change--of everything, the challenges, the blessings.

The past two weeks are a great example. I've been a stress case, walking around with a mental to-do list on my shoulders that felt like I was piggy-backing an elephant. A thousand worries: Did I remember to switch that utility? How will Henley adjust to living in an apartment complex? Did I save enough money to get the apartment in reasonably sufficient living condition without eating ramen at the end of the month? Is selling my car really the right decision? Is anything ever the right decision? 

I can go from task to existential crisis in no time flat.

On the other hand, there is so much good happening: I'm so so excited to settle in, to decorate, to explore a new area, to have a place large enough to entertain friends.

Change, change, change. We all know I don't adjust easily. It takes me some time. It puts me off my axis.

Which is how I know it's time to kick into gratitude mode. A good friend of mine (Hi Leece!) once told me in a moment of anxiety: You are loved and surrounded and safe, my dear. (I'm paraphrasing; she always writes these poetic emails that are a little bit like Xanax in your inbox. The original message was probably much more beautiful.) It's my go-to reminder in a stressful situation. Your life might be in boxes, your dog might be barking at every new shadow, your mail may or may not make it to you for another week, you might not be able to cook for a week because you forgot to call the gas company (ooooops!), but you are loved and you are surrounded and you are safe.

One of the most precious things about moving to Chicago is that it has given me a chance to both reconnect with some of my oldest friends in the world while also making countless new connections. I've been blessed with some wonderful coworkers-turned-fast-friends, friends of old friends and friends of new friends. (Reminder: Wonderful things happen when you just relax and let people in, Bobbi.)

I'm thankful today for friends both new and old: For physically helping me move (it makes my heart so happy that it was my one of my newest friends, Whitney, and one of my oldest friends, Eric, that helped me move), for helping me strategize the decor, for helping me figure out the logistics of moving in the city, for patiently waiting it out while Meltdown Barbie was in town, for sending their love and support from afar, and for being raring and ready to celebrate with me when all is said and unpacked.

They say that illness, changing jobs, moving and dealing with a death of a loved one are among the most stressful life events one can face. I've dealt with all four in the last year of my life, and I am here to report that with a stellar support system, you can come out the other side happy and healthy.

From HI to CO, from MI and WI and MN to IL, I feel loved and surrounded and safe. Big love to all my silver and gold. You're my rocks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Settling, The Good Kind

After almost seven months without 85% of my belongings, I will be moving into a permanent apartment this weekend (!!!!!!!). Since I'm moving on a holiday weekend, I got the keys a little bit early and did a walk through yesterday after work. I met the maintenance guy, who showed me in and gave me the run-down. 

When he left, I thanked him, shut the door, sat in the middle of my new living room floor, and promptly bawled my eyes out.

I wiped snot from my nose and felt ridiculous and childish--but also relieved. Because of the quick turnaround time of my move and because it's damn near impossible to find apartments that allow dogs the size of small horses, I took a four-month furnished sublet that turned into a seven-month furnished sublet, arriving with one Jeep-load of belongings. In the recent months, I have been ashamed by how much living in a sublet with other people's things was wearing on me. Every time I mentioned it to anyone, they'd shrug and say something like, "Yeah, but you have everything you need, right? What's missing?"

Which sounded rational, sure. After all, I've had a *furnished* apartment--a really nice one, actually. I've had a place to stretch after my runs, and a hot shower to use after yoga class. I've had a place for Henley to look out the window, and even an alley contained enough to throw a ball in. I've had a place to read, a place to sleep, a place to write, a place to binge watch TV on my laptop. I've had internet, AC, kind neighbors to let me in when I locked myself out during my first week in town. What's missing?, indeed.

I learned over these last seven months just what I can do without. I can do without an oven--the sublet had a gas stove and I never did muster the courage to try to light it. I can do without a dishwasher--this one just didn't get my smoothie glasses clean. I can do without my mixer, my serving platters and my kombucha supplies--though I did nab my juicer the last time I was home. I can even do without any semblance of my own sense of organization in terms of closet set up--though the shoe rack in the front closet nearly got tossed into the street a few times.

But I need a frame wall filled with pictures of my people. I need the hodge podge of art and trinkets I've collected on my travels to remind me how big the world is. I need the odd rummage sale dishes that make me smile with their quirks and wonder about their history. I need to be surrounded by a vibrant storm of colors--my colors--that reflect back to me what I want to look out for in this world.

What was missing were the things that make me feel like I'm home. What was missing were the things that make me feel like Bobbi. And, perhaps most pressing, what was missing was the courage to acknowledge that I have been yearning to carry those things with me into this new world, even if I couldn't yet articulate why.

I need the framed letter my mom wrote me when I was 17, the one that proves on paper that no one knows or loves me more than my family. I need a damn shoe rack that actually fits all of my flipping shoes, and I need the most beautiful Bobbi-colored blanket that my dear friend Krista got me for Christmas one year in college--it is itchy in the most beautiful and familiar way. I need my fancy throw pillows because they make me feel like a princess, and I need the journals of mistakes past because they remind me that I am human.

My girl's got her choice of windows, to be sure.

Sometimes I think the only way I learn about myself in any progressive way is when I look back on a particularly cringe-worthy meltdown and ask myself, "What the $@*! was that about?"

Sure, that was the relief after weeks of dealing with the dozens of annoyances and tasks that come with moving addresses, starting and stopping utilities, and coordinating a move in the city.

But if I really ask myself what was at the core of those tears, that was about needing my roots even when I'm flying high on my wings. That was the result of pushing down my feelings and not acknowledging them as valid.  That was about finally admitting that I have not, for one second of the last seven months, felt truly settled... until I was again, covered in snot on a empty living room floor. My empty living room floor.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Heart Wide Open :OR: 10 Love Lessons I Learned from John Mayer

I'm not sure what it says about the fate of my love life that I believe I have gotten a somewhat legitimate education in matters of the heart from the person who is seemingly the most inept person in the world to deliver such wisdom.

You know how sometimes you learn what not to do from someone's actions? Well, I'm thinking of dear Johnny as a big brother who screwed up so royally that I'll never have to make the same mistakes on my own. Because, you know, I'm totally innocent in this department and have never made a single misstep.


Behold, the lessons John Mayer taught me about how to navigate the winding chambers of my own heart and the weird wacky world of Figuring Out The Opposite Sex:

1. Ask for what you want. It's the only way you're going to get it.
If you want more love, why don't you say so? -Heartbreak Warfare
Oh, uh, good point. Why don't I?

2. Walk away when it's not the complete package. Love hurts the most when it's unbalanced. And really, that's not love, now is it?
Anything other than 'yes' is 'no' / anything other than 'stay' is 'go'  -Friends, Lovers or Nothing
3. Figure out what you're running from. And then figure out what you should be running from. Don't be the crazy girl who doesn't know the difference. Then act accordingly.
You're like 22 girls in one / And none of them know what they're running from -Paper Doll
4. If you find yourself conceding, negotiating with yourself, or settling in any way, move on. 
I can't be her angel now / You know, it's not my place to hold her down / and it's hard for me to take a stand / when I would take her any way I can -Neon
Don't be this girl. Even if he makes you buzz like neon, neon. No--especially if he makes you buzz like neon, neon.

 Dumbest smart person to ever get a record deal.

5. Speak your peace. You'll feel a lot better, regardless of the outcome--even if sucks in the meantime. No--especially if it sucks in the meantime. That usually means there's something important to be said.
Say what you need to say
Have no fear for givin' in / Have no fear for givin' over / You better know that in the end / it's better to say too much / than never say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shakin' / and your faith is broken / Even as the eyes are closin' / Do it with a heart wide open -Say
6. Avoid people who can't love you. For whatever reason, even if and especially if it's a reason he made up in his own head and can't or won't articulate.
Half of my heart is a shot gun wedding / to a bride with a paper ring / and half of my heart is the part of a man / who's never truly loved anything
Down the road / later on / you will hate that I never gave more to you / than half of my heart --Half of My Heart
You will. Don't date this boy. For Heaven's sake, don't love this boy.

7. The right person will love you even when you are not 100%.
Suppose I said / colors change for no good reason / Words will go / from poetry to prose 

Would you want me when I'm not myself / Wait it out while I am someone else / And I in time / will come around / I always do / for you  -Not Myself
It's okay to ask that of someone as long as you love the same way in return.

8. There's someone for everyone. Just sometimes you have to go through a lot of someones to find your Someone.
Good love is on the way / I been lonely but I know I'll be okay -Good Love is on the Way
When I was your lover / no one else would do / If I'm forced to find another / she's gonna look like you / Yeah and she's nicer too / I'm gonna find another you -I'm Gonna Find Another You

"This is a song about talking to the person that you haven't even met yet. Maybe they're rolling around in the hay with someone else, but they're not as good as you'll be. You just have to wait your turn. She's out there, he's out there. They're just learning what to contrast you against." -Live Version of Love Song For No One
9. You gotta look out for Number One.
Three years broken-hearted / Now her ghost is finally gone / I'm done with broken people / This is me I'm working on -Good Love is on the Way

I can't wait to figure out what's wrong with me / so I can say this is the way that I used to be -Split Screen Sadness
10. In the end, listen to your heart. It's not as dumb, complicated, silly, flaky or broken as you might think. Stop being ridiculous.

Yeah... Johnny's never written anything about this. This I learned from his poor example.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Epiphanies, Volume II

  • The reason that entire endcap of lavender dish soap was on clearance at Target is because its confusing when your dishes smell like laundry.

  • Sometimes, 'spontaneous' really means 'flaky' and 'inconsiderate'. Like Oprah says, when people show you who they are, believe them.

  • The degree to which I look to John Mayer for assistance in pinpointing and validating my feelings is terrifying and, in most cases, highly inappropriate. Which is to say, I'm pretty much doomed.

  • When you put yourself out there, entire worlds open up that seemingly didn't exist before. Entire teams of people, entire pools of thought, entire galaxies of possibility. Life is really good when you let it be.

  • There is a fine line between good parenting and genius parenting, and I hope one day I can walk it:

... I fill you up. Let's have a PARTY.

  • Being your own best friend is infinitely harder and infinitely more rewarding when you ask yourself the hard questions--and answer them honestly. It's hard to evolve, and it hurts, but it feels really good to be on the other side of growth.

  • I'm not sure at which point you start saying, "We should meet for a drink!" instead of "What time are we going to the bar?" But I do know that no one ever means just one drink, and I find it comforting that my peers have developed this code to make themselves feel a little bit better about the trajectory of their lives evenings. Cheers, peers.

You can find my first jolt of enlightenment here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bobbi Lately

I've been feeling lately that I'm living more in the moment, which is the goal I've been working toward. But it makes it hard to reflect, here, on this website, built for reflecting. The two areas of my life--work and relationships--that I avoid here are the areas I've been focusing on, and I don't know how to write publicly about them (and I'm not sure that I even want to at all).

But I still want to capture snapshots of this time in my life. It's a time I fought hard for, and a time I am savoring. It's delivering a host of lessons, as always, but I may have to let some time pass and do some thinking about how, and if, I want to document them. For now, here's the minutiae, the filler, the distractions, the lately:
  • Lately, I've been drinking coffee. Which basically means that I've essentially had a buzz on  during my waking hours since Tuesday. But my real confession is that I think it makes me a better person, and I sort of hate how much better I feel on the sauce. I aspire to be a "green juice gives me so much energy!" person, but right now, I'm a "they make almond milk creamers, right?" person. Never mind that I can't feel the inside of my mouth--I'm tearing through my project load, gangbusters-style.
  • I kind of had an epiphany on the train:
Awww, Baby's First Sports Metaphor
  • Lately, I've been itching to get out of my current sublet and into my new apartment. I can't wait to have my things and feel settled, and oddly enough, put down some roots in Chicago. Have I mentioned how psyched I am to decorate?
  • I've been on a mission to try every fish taco in Chicago. Which gets, you know, expensive, so I've been trying to develop my personal best taco recipe. I've been failing, but failure can be pretty delicious, too. 

If drowning my failures in sriracha is wrong, I don't want to be right.
  • I've been obsessed with The Newsroom and Orange in the New Black.
  • I've been whole-heartedly enjoying my Chicago summer. Street fests, late night martinis and tarot card readings on a bar patio with new friends, reading in the park, figuring out what the hell to do with my CSA veggies. My soul is a happy soul.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Books I Might Write Someday: Volume II

You can read my first foray into literary endeavors here.

Anxiety & Dating: If the Overthinking Doesn't Kill You, the Text Analyzing Will

From Real Estate to Rat Traps: How To Survive as a Single Twenty-Something

"Seriously Though, Enough With the Bunnies": Tips for Raising Coping with a Spirited Dog

Becoming a Professional Bull-Shi++er: How to Write About Things You Know Nothing About

"So You're Allergic to Potatoes?" and 14 Other Things You Don't Freaking Understand About Gluten Sensitivity

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quoteworthy: Centeredness

When I lived in Marquette, when I was living by my roots, the wings were all I could think about--the things I wanted to do and go and be and see. And now that I am living by my wings, and putting myself in all sorts of new situations and environments, I've been closely examining my roots.

I know that I'm closer to finding a better balance, but the irony of this is not at all lost on me. In fact, it is so quintessentially Bobbi that it is rather obnoxious. File this one under #noshitSherlock. (Remember when hashtagging wasn't a thing? Neither do I.)

But then again that's what this space has always attempt to even things out and be as balanced as possible. A place to document the gravitational pull between my two poles. Maybe in the end, I'll just have one thousand posts struggling to articulate the same thing: the strange, intense dichotomy that is my inner emotional life. Maybe.

On my trip home for the 4th of July, I felt for the first time in a long time that I was standing in the middle of the roots and the wings--that I had both, and what I had was everything I needed. I hugged my honorary nieces and nephews, caught up on heart-to-hearts with some of the best people I know, spent time shooting the shit in Bob's Garage-mahal, walked the shores of the lake with my mama, and watched Henley run wild on open trails. I didn't wish to be anywhere else. It was that New York feeling I had craved for over 7 years: Supported, and happy. Free, but grounded.

And then I piled back in my car with two awesome humans and three awesome puppies, and I headed back to my other home with no hesitation. I unpacked my bags, took a long walk around my neighborhood, prepped my morning smoothie, and settled in to write this post.

According to Wikipedia, "an object at the Equator experiences a weaker gravitational pull than an object at the poles". So, the goal, it seems, really is to stay as close to the center as possible. #Noted.

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you truly love. It will not lead you astray." --Rumi

"Oh twice as much, ain't twice as good / And can't sustain like one half could / It's wanting more / That's going to send me to my knees" --John Mayer, Gravity

"Not one that I have found in all of my searching equaled the one that found me when I finally stopped." --Tyler Knott Gregson

"And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much of it was mine to keep." --Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

"You belong among the wildflowers / You belong in a boat out at sea / You belong with your love on your arm / You belong somewhere you feel free"  --Tom Petty, Wildflowers

Gravity: (n) a natural force of attraction; of grave consequence and importance

Balance: (n) a harmonious or satisfying arrangement; an influence producing equilibrium

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Things Running Taught Me About Life

An unexpected outcome of my running pursuits has been applying what I've learned to my every day life. (Much like my rowing experience.) Here are a few lessons that crossed over to other areas of my life:

Don't take it personally. I read an article with advice about running outdoors that said, "Don't take the wind personally. Resistance is just another sensation." The wind is not there to ruin your day. The wind is not a person > The wind cannot have ill feelings for you. It's simply resistance. If you insert another annoyance for 'wind', it makes things, well, less annoying.

Benchmarks, schmenchmarks. I followed the Couch-to-5k program. Because of my back issues, I repeated some weeks. When I signed up for the extra races, I had a period of panic, but somewhere between weeks 4 and 5, things clicked. It didn't align with the program, but eventually I reached my goal.

You've got to figure out how to be your own side-line high-fiver. During races, some of the most bolstering moments were when strangers would high-five me at mile markers. What I'm trying to learn from running is how to be my own high-fiver and cultivate that feeling of "Yes! You rock! Keep going, you rock star you!", on the treadmill and off.

One way to accomplish that is to regularly feed yourself positive thoughts. It's no secret that I'm a little bit neurotic. What I learned from yoga is that you have to cultivate your own positive thoughts and gentle reminders. In the spirit of becoming my own yoga teacher, I've been growing a collection of positive refrains to use while running, as it's sometimes the only thing that will get me through that damned second mile. Among my collection:
"I'm already doing this."
"I am so much stronger than yesterday."
Figure out how to be your own Good Witch.

"Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right." It's so annoying, but so true.

"Your mind will quit 1000 times before your body will." Ugh, my freaking mind. Despite it being one of the pillars of yoga, I never understood the relationship between mind and body until I started running. Both separation and oneness are skills to cultivate, that's for sure. There is a time for both.

Don't compare. Doesn't matter how fast/strong/fit the next guy is. You're already doing it.

It's all a really big privilege. Whether it's grueling physical activity or standing in line at Whole Foods, all of it is a blessing. I'm lucky to be able, literally, to choose my route. That's the biggest lesson of all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

30-Before-30 Update: #22: Run a 5k and Not Die

One of my favorite things about listing out my goals has been looking back to my frame of mind when I set them, and then seeing how I feel about them as time goes on, and then also seeing how they come to fruition. Most times, it hasn't looked anything like how I thought it would. And its usually been 10x times better for it.

When I set this goal, it was before my back issues, before I discovered the startling truth we all will face at one point in our lives: You get one body. Only one. It's yours to nurture. And when something happens to it, your world can turn sort of grey. It takes a lot of work to get it back--and I'm very lucky to report that I could get it back.

My original thoughts behind wanting to run a 5k were simple: I just wanted a reason to get into shape. With my new perspective, this goal took on a brand new meaning. When I got my body back (and that's precisely how it feels, like one day my old body was handed back to me), it became about strength, about celebrating that the rain clouds part eventually, about appreciation and gratitude, about being well and staying well. About doing it because I can, for as long as I can.

It has been a long road back, with lots of physical therapy and hard work. And patience, which, you know, I'm super great at. (There ought to be a font for sarcasm.) My third physical therapist, my total rockstar BFF Brenda, was the one who made me believe that not only would I get better, I would get awesome again. She worked running into my PT schedule, once I was back to zero pain (but still down a lot of muscle and endurance from my time on the horizontal). First I ran in the pool three days per week. Once I had no pain doing that, I ran on the treadmill in 30 second intervals, then 1 minute, then 2.

And so on, and so forth, over many, many weeks. It is arguably the most disciplined I've ever been about anything--both when it comes to the consistency of the workouts, but also the restraint I showed by not overdoing it and the empathy I showed myself by not beating myself up along the way.

Funny thing is, I basically moved to the city of 5ks. Within two months of living here, friends and coworkers had asked me to partcipate in not one, not two or three, but five 5ks. I only ran three of them, because the other two were for work purposes. Luckily, I had already started training.

Mile 1: The Cubs Fun Run, May 11, 2013
This one was ahead of my training schedule, by, oh, you know, three weeks. In an 8 week training schedule, three weeks is quite a bit, especially the last three. But a new work friend, Whitney, asked me to run it with her and a friend, and since it wasn't officially timed, and you ended up at Wrigley Field, I agreed. She also promised drinks afterward, so.

I was giddy when I picked up my race packet the night before. It felt like someone handed me a badge that said "runner" and "Chicagoan" all at once.

I ended up having to walk about a quarter of the race, but I met Whitney and her friend at a bar in Wrigleyville afterward (those tall, crazy Southerns finished in 30 minutes, while I was closer to 47), and, well, drinking bloody Marys in spandex at 9am made for quite the finish line.

Mile 2: The Chase Challenge 3.5miler, May 23, 2013
Still ahead of schedule by a week, but my boss and a few coworkers were planning to run, and the starting line was essentially right outside my building. And my company paid half my entry fee. I couldn't not!

This race felt exactly how the second mile of a race feels: It pretty much sucked, but it showed me that I had a lot more in me than I thought I did.  This ended up being incredibly bolstering for me. That's not to say it wasn't incredibly grueling. The scenery was terrible, as we were essentially running through highway tunnels. I walked a few times, but ran strong the last 1.5 miles. When my time was emailed to me about 20 minutes after I finished, I was really proud. Five minutes less than last time, and this race was almost a half mile longer than the last!

Then I ate two pieces of gluten-laden Chicago-style pizza the size of my face and walked back to my office while sharing laughs with my coworkers. My tumtum was not happy, but the rest of my body was.

Mile 3:  The Chicago Color Run, June 16, 2013
This was actually supposed to be by first race, but all the other opportunities came up.  I ran it with a crazy fun group of Ohioans (?), one of which is a high school friend's girlfriend-turned-my insta-BFF, Ashley. We were pretty sure it wasn't truly a 5k--it seemed really, really short and easy.

It was so much fun, and it felt exactly how mile three of a race feels--easier than the previous few! There were stations where people would douse you in colored cornstarch and then people had their own packs of it as well. It was super fun!

Mile .10686: What's next?
I am excited to say that I think running is a hobby and form of exercise that is here to stay. It's taught me a lot about myself, it has strengthened, renewed and sparked friendships, and it's taught me a lot of life lessons. (You know there's a whole other post coming on that...)