Dear Younger Me

Remember in elementary school when your teacher told you to take out a piece of paper and write a note to your future self? Or better yet, you were in high school writing words of advice to a younger, more self-conscious you.

I was strolling around German Village not too long ago when I had the sudden urge to do just that. Speak to past Diana. The cause? For once, I chose to not skip a single song on my playlist, only to reveal songs I had not listened to in quite some time. Songs that uncovered specific, real, emotionally-charged moments from the past. WOAH. Don’t worry…it’s not that deep ūüėČ

It started with I Guess That’s Why They Call it The Blues by Elton John. Suddenly I’m 10 years old in the backseat of Dad’s Acura MDX as we’re headed towards the beach in July. As my sisters complete word puzzles, I’m staring out the window, singing along with Mom, trying to pick up Elton’s British accent, and trying not to be nauseous. Once in a while, I’ll look up to see Dad’s hands tapping on the steering wheel to the beat.

Dear Diana, soak in these family moments. Life won’t always be this simple. Actually, tell your 16 year-old self, too.

The song transitions into A Way Back Into Love from the lovely Music & Lyrics. I’m sitting next to my best friend in eighth grade at AMC (when movies were only $7.50?!?!?) smiling, giggling at uncomfortable scenes, and wondering what in the world it will be like to fall in love. I mean, boys are cute, and Hugh Grant is cute, but what the heck is love all about?

Dear Diana, you’ll find it! And you’ll find it again. 24 year old Diana is still learning. But the best part? It is real, and it is good, and it is so much more than the ending kiss scene between Drew and Hugh. Promise.

Michael Buble interrupts with Haven’t Met You Yet. Ah. One of my favorites. I pressed repeat on this song at least a thousand times before I finally gave in to buy it for $1.29 on iTunes. And I still couldn’t get enough. I remember belting it out on Saturday mornings at Krema with my colleagues. Where is my future going? What will I do after Krema?

Dear Diana, hang in there. I know at 16 it doesn’t seem like it, but you’re right where you’re meant to be. Trust the process, and trust that one thing leads to another. Also, a part of you will always miss Krema days, so try not to get too frustrated when customers sprint through the door to order sandwiches when you’ve just finished washing dishes.

Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Gotta thank my sister Emily for always giving me a taste of alternative music. (Is that still the genre?) I fell in love with this song the summer of 2013, ironically while I was trying to fall out of love from a most recent, painful breakup. Wiping away tears, staring at my iPad, I wonder if it will ever get better?

Dear Diana, long story short…yes. Girl. It’s going to be SO much better. You’re meant to go so many places and that was not on the right path. Plus, you are not and never will be defined by a relationship. Keep that chin up like you are, you’re doing great.

Next plays Our God by Chris Tomlin. Melanie first showed me this song. I loved it for the violin strings and Chris’ smooth voice. I’m walking around campus, earbuds in, music up full blast. Enjoying the song but not hearing it. Focused on classes and internships and tennis and sorority events.

Dear Diana, Guess what? Actually, you’ll never guess, but God is pursuing you this very moment. Listen. Be still if you can. I know you can’t believe me now, but you’re going to find your own faith in just a few short years. And it’s going to be amazing. I’m so excited for you.

Okay I lied. It did get deeper than I thought. That’s exactly what happened on my walk, too. I stepped back into my apartment with a silly grin and teary eyes. Nothing like a little bit of perspective when you least expect it. Thanks music, you rock.

Oh and I can’t wait for the Dear Diana‘s to come…

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Soak It Up!

Just ten days ago, I’m standing on stage at this very moment. The sun is setting and it will disappear any moment now. My feet are tingling, my heart is racing, my cheeks are burning from smiling with excitement. This is real. I’m about to be singing for the very first time with the Columbus community choir and nonprofit organization that I’ve dreamed of being a part of for three years. I cannot focus and yet I’ve never been more focused in my life. I want to remember every note, every sound, every feeling, every breath of the next forty minutes. Forever.¬†Okay, Diana, that isn’t plausible.¬†How, then, can I best remember? How can I live and experience what’s about to happen in every way possible? How can I soak it up? Like Sheryl Crow is to sun, I am to this moment.

Ten days later and here I am typing this, still utterly in awe of that night. I can feel the rush of the first chord. I can see the sweat from our conductor, moving fiercely to each rhythm and every lyric. I can hear my heart beat as my favorite song builds in volume and echoes against the crowd. I could go on and on and on. But while reminiscing…I realize something. Perhaps there are actionable ways to soak up a moment, an experience, a lifetime dream. And perhaps I practiced them ten days before. First, you got to:

Hold up.¬†Wait, wait a minute. If you ain’t got no – wait, that’s a Chris Brown song. Back to the point. Hold up. In other words, clear your mind from anything other than this moment. This is it. If possible, physically stop moving for a bit. This is real. This is life right now.

Shut up.¬†Okay now your mind is focused, so why are you still talking? To be honest I definitely tend to suffer from I’m-so-excited-I’m-going-to-keep-rambling-about-my-emotions-outloud disorder, but this is not the time. Even if everyone around you is chatting, be silent for a minute. Focus on your emotions, on how you feel at this very time in your life. Focus on your excitement, happiness, peace, or whatever it is that makes this moment something you want to remember.

Look up.¬†From your phone. From others. For me? I look to the sky. I look to the sky a lot because I love the sky. I smile at the sky more often than the normal, sane person I’m sure. You don’t have to look at the sky. But look at what helps you meditate just a bit more. What helps you go deeper. Close your eyes and whisper thankful prayers. This moment will not last forever.

Follow up.¬†And now it’s over. But it can still live on!!! Cliches aside, follow up – with yourself. For this specific concert, it took me a couple days because it still did not seem real. Let yourself travel back, though. Let yourself wander in the fleeting memories. And soak it up.

And then make a hit song like Kelly Clarkson. A moment like this. Or dance/smile/spin because guess what? The moment did happen. It really did. And you really lived it.

I Spy

Yesterday morning found me sitting cross-legged in Atlanta International Airport – the “world’s busiest airport,” says Wikipedia. “Best airport ever!!!” exclaims multiple Google Reviews. “Worst airport ever!!” complains additional Google Reviews. Well, whether worst or best, there I was perched in one of those stiff, awkwardly-leaning seats (seriously, is it just me or do all airport terminal seats lean back just a bit too far?) next to my sister. It’s just past 8am and we exchange yawns resulting from a whirlwind weekend trip. She returns to reading her book. I tune back into the song in my earbuds, and continue staring off into space and soaking in the environment at the same time.

Wikipedia seems accurate. There are so many people here and it’s even an early Sunday morning! All different walks of life. All different ages. All different demographics. I begin noticing little things, and I begin taking notes of them. I begin watching the people around me, I begin “people-watching” I suppose. To my left, I spy a young man chatting with an older woman in what seems to be a lovely growing small talk conversation. Perhaps they aren’t strangers but it looks that way. A 3ish-year old boy runs by me and steals my attention with his bright giggle. He has to be the most alert individual in the terminal. I wave to him. To my right, I spy the brightest coral pants I’ve ever seen on a man. Dang. Now I’m thinking about how I want a pair of coral pants. Would it be weird to ask him where he bought them? Probably. Especially since they’re male pants.

Most of my thoughts above are subconscious until I realize a pattern. I spy…I spy…I spy. My mind is like those books I loved (and sometimes hated) as a kid!! You know the ones. Each set of two pages reveal a scene of either 1) an explosion of the tiniest items you ever did see or 2) a scene of such intricate detail (usually constructed with toys) you could lose time gazing at it. And then, in poetic form, you as the reader were instructed to find 10 random items within the scene. It was such an accomplishment to catch all ten! And it was so maddening to not find that last one. What do you mean, “a flag on a house in a tree” ? There are NO trees!! You lie, I Spy book, you lie!

Back to Sunday morning, though. What if I could construct my airport scene into an I Spy scene? What would be the items, what would be the clues, what would I want others to see that I see? Or, what do I want others to show me that they see? Wait, I tell my mind, as it usually does like to run off…what if the I Spy clues are intangible rather than tangible? Such as, I spy joy. I spy love. I spy strength. Who of us fits those adjectives? Can we tell by their face? Their body expressions? Their conversations? Or is it hidden behind blank stares, heads buried in phone screens, and isolation? Because I bet in all of these people around me, no matter what they look like, no matter how they seem in my snapshot view, have wonderful and intriguing and beautiful stories. And I want to catch a glimpse. I want to spy a part of that. I smile.

Diana, stop smiling to yourself. You probably look creepy. That’s what others will see in you. Wait, maybe they’ll see joy. And happiness. And a free spirit.

I like the sound of that. Or rather, I like the sight of that.

Mission Possible

Those of you who know me well know I absolutely love Tuesdays. Yep, I’m that weirdo. The one humming¬†down the hallway for more coffee at 9:15am, stopping for brief conversations with my favorite coworkers, and ready to attack my current project list with enthusiasm. To me, Tuesdays will always have a magical, productive charm to them.

Except¬†a Tuesday morning not so long ago, this is¬†not the case. 10am hits and instead of feeling high on life, I feel¬†burdened, anxious, even a bit bitter. The worst part? I have¬†no idea why. Sure, we all have bad moments, upset feelings, disappointing times – and I have my fair share. But looking around my office, I cannot¬†put my finger on what or how or why I am¬†feeling “off.” Then I feel¬†it. It’s these dang jeans. No, I’m not kidding. I’d bought these new black jeans around four months ago and they were great, and sleek, and fitting, and¬†perfect for work…but they really weren’t all that comfortable. I kept thinking I’d “wear them in” or “wash them enough times” or “stretch them out in the right places.” After four months, clearly the jeans were the real winner. At this moment, I admit¬†defeat.

Then I look at the time. 11:15am. For every battle lost, another battle is yet to be won. Am I right? (Yes, I am still talking about jeans in this specific situation). 11:15am. I could make it. I could make it to Easton, to Forever 21 where oddly enough their jeans always come through for me, and back within an hour. Those of you who know me also know I dislike shopping, like really dislike it, but this is different. I am on a mission. And it is possible.

Twenty minutes later finds¬†me at Easton mall. I may be the only shopper in Forever 21 (XXI) (I don’t know which is official) (because I don’t shop there unless it’s for jeans) (or the occasional dress) and I’m speed walking through the store and low-and-behold, there is the tower of black jeans!!! Another ten minutes, and I’ve tried on a perfect pair, checked out, and am back on the road. Every song on the radio is that much better.

I stop home for two seconds to change into my¬†silky new denim, drive the 0.5 mile back to work, walk (but feel like skipping) back to my office, close the door. 12:15pm. Okay, okay, it was probably not on the nose but I did make it back within the¬†hour. Life is GREAT.¬†I’m feeling great. I start to laugh because of what just happened, and because no one else in the office would¬†even be able to tell, and because I know that now whenever I wear these jeans I’ll smile to myself. There’s that¬†Tuesday enthusiasm!¬†Alright, back to work.

Guess what? Tomorrow is Tuesday. What will your mission be? It may be grand or may be trivial or may not hit you until a specific moment. But it will be possible. And it might be funny. And it very well may make a great story ūüėČ

No Matter the Bruises

Warning: This post is a bit different, a bit darker than the norm. But after having saved this draft for over a year, I think it’s time to share.

I do not know and will never claim to know everything about eating disorders. All I know are my own set of experiences and feelings.

I know what it feels like to¬†stare in disbelief across the kitchen counter. To see so many open jars, empty wrappers, used¬†utensils. Crumbs everywhere.¬†What just happened?¬†It feels like waking up from a dream, only it’s real and it’s actually a nightmare. The sharp, intense, familiar pain in my stomach emerges through my food haze. I don’t know how much I’ve eaten. I don’t want to know. I double over. I feel sick. I feel guilt. So much guilt.¬†So much anger.

I know what it feels¬†like to kneel, hugging the toilet seat, and cry. Cry for what I’ve just¬†done. Silently hoping and praying that flushing will simultaneously erase this¬†incident, and the last incident, and the time before that. It doesn’t. I should feel better for reversing what I just ate, right? I don’t. I cry harder. But I must stop, I must be quiet, the bathroom exhaust only drowns out so much sound. I must rejoin my family celebrating my birthday, or my friends back at the restaurant table before they start to wonder where I am. They cannot know. I dry my eyes, blow my nose, look in the mirror. I hate what I see.

I know what it feels like to be a girl obsessed. No, not with a man or a job, but with food. To count,¬†and count, and count. To see every food item as a number. The number of calories it has, the number in which it ranks on the scale between good and bad foods, the number my total calories consumed would increase to if I would consume said item.¬†When I don’t know, I¬†open my phone calculator and do some quick math. After every meal. I smile, I actually feel joy, when the total at the end of the day is a 3 digit number. I pretend not to notice my¬†physical exhaustion, dizziness, spaced-out mind at work.

I know what it feels like to promise myself tomorrow. To promise myself the future. I know what it feels like to finally open up to family and a few close friends about the truth. To see their disbelief, their tears, and most importantly, their shared feelings, if any. So many of us suffer¬†from an unhealthy¬†relationship with food. And beyond that, we are all struggling with something, someTHINGS really.¬†I am not alone. I’ve always known that. What I didn’t know is that I would suffer from this. I also didn’t ever think I’d be where I am today. Not cured, not completely healthy, but better. There are slip-ups, but they are fewer. I smile just typing that.

I smile when I think of how thankful I am for self-confidence boosts, encouraging words, and big hugs at just the right time (whether they knew or not) from people I am so so so lucky to live¬†life with. I smile when I think of songs that have saved me, and difficult prayers that I’ve finally had the courage to speak.¬†I smile when I reflect on the times my thoughts were not¬†consumed with food, but instead with¬†the moment at hand. I smile when I think of the times I’ve been driving to a¬†restaurant, or family party, and I’m not scared¬†of my diet. I smile when I know now that this does¬†not define me, but it is merely a part of my story. My hope is that if you’re reading this that you can smile today thinking about small victories on your own journey – whether it’s been similar to mine or not at all.

Publish. Don’t publish. Publish. Listen to MercyMe. Close eyes. Breathe. Smile.

Publish.

Four O’clock in the Morning

Wait, isn’t that a song? Lilly Allen and someone else…T-Pain? Woah where did that come from. I think I used to have that song back when iTunes had free singles per week and I always downloaded them because the risk was worth the reward. Also since when does/did T-Pain sing sentimental songs? Love that. I love when artists take us by surprise with something that’s out of the ordinary. I love when people every day venture from their comfort zone.

That’s how I aim to live life. #2017 #2017goals #kidding I don’t really believe in setting goals just because of a change in calendar year. If it’s successful for you – more power to you! I am not putting you down by any means. I just happen to change, evaluate, reconsider, add, delete, forget, remember, forget again, and redefine my goals and ambitions probably weekly. I don’t think I could keep one definition of a goal for 365 days. I love thinking about the future. I daydream all the time. Maybe that’s why I re-evaluate my goals so much while continually working towards them.

I love being awake at 4am. It’s eerily magical. Quiet. Only a few cars roll by outside. I want to hop in my car and drive aimlessly. I want to go lie down on the pavement and soak in the sky. I should take advantage of this additional time. Time I could spend planning more of my most recent business idea. Time I could spend taking an online class. Time I could spend mapping out all the cities I want to visit. Time I could spend researching a nearby place to watch the sunrise. And then go and sit in absolute peace.

Hey Grandpa, are you awake? I know you love starting your day early. Dad, are you? I remember hearing your alarm around this time when I lived at home. Let’s gather three fold-out chairs on Grandpa’s driveway and watch the sunrise together. I’ll make the coffee. I’ll sing some T-Pain. Oh, I just looked it up and his song is Five O’clock in the Morning, not four. Well perfect, because it’s just after 5 now ūüĎć

I’ve Got A Feeling

“What is your very favorite sensory experience for each of the five human senses?” I remember my¬†existentialist¬†high school classmate asked me one cold December bus ride to our holiday choir performance. I took a sip of hot chocolate and grinned.

“I-I don’t know.” I remember the question really caught¬†me off guard. I was not surprised as this boy – we’ll call him Adam – always liked to get under our skins with tough questions and snarky remarks. And yet again¬†I didn’t know how to respond. I’m quirky and imaginative and talkative by nature, but when someone asks me something deep, I want to take my time in my response. And for the remainder of the bus ride, I never gave an answer. The conversation continued and Adam probably does not even recall asking this question. For some reason, though, it stuck with me. And just last week, this question creeped back¬†into my mind.

“What is your very favorite sensory experience for each of the five human senses?”

…To tell you the truth I still do not have a concrete answer. There are FAR too many choices, in my opinion. But I did challenge myself to ponder this¬†for an entire two days. And here’s what I came up with of¬†the senses¬†I endured during those 48 hours.

Feel: Wearing socks¬†just¬†out of the dryer before they’ve had a chance to cool.

Hear: Walking to the mesmerizing pitter-patter of rain drops hitting my umbrella.

See: Glancing upwards to find one golden ray of sunlight shining through, touching each layer of tree leaves in the same yet entirely different manner.

Smell: Inhaling¬†freshly baked pumpkin crunch cake in the small confines of my car for 20 entire minutes en route to a friend’s house.

Taste: Sipping that first drink of dark roast coffee when just getting to the office.

And there were so many more. But these were the moments, senses, experiences that stuck just a bit more. The best part of these two days? I was even more in tune to the world. Even more focused on the minute pleasures in life. I found myself being grateful every moment that I not only have these five senses, but am able to enjoy each one of them every single day. I’ve got a feeling I’ll continue to¬†do my best to be more sense-itive¬†to my surroundings. (Get it hahaha) But in all seriousness, I urge you to try it. Also, Adam, wherever you may be in life at this moment – shout out to you.