Moving On

Hi, friends! It has been awhile and I am so excited to be back. Gosh, even just typing nonsense feels good. I missed my time and my space that I created for myself here on the internet. I forgot how therapeutic writing for me really is and my goodness do I need all the therapeutic activities I can get. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

There has been so much going on in my life I barely know where to begin. I believe my last post was approximately 6 months ago, give or take a few. Even in those last few posts I wasn’t in the best head space to say how I was truly feeling or what I was going through. I think I have made it through the fog and I am ready to let it out. “Hold onto your butts” as the great Samuel L. Jackson once stated in the greatest film of all time (let’s fight about it).

I will start with the biggest news of all, I MOVED BACK TO NEW YORK CITY! Basically it all started with a text from my previous intern supervisor informing me that there was a job opening and I was encouraged to apply. As soon as I saw the text, I knew in my heart of hearts that NYC was where I was meant to be. Of course, even when my stomach knows the truth, my brain has a tendency to disregard all natural instincts.

I explored options with friends, family, therapists, trees, stray dogs, the wind, etc. I went back and forth, back and forth, unsure if I should stay or go. Although, everyone around me seemed to know my answer before I did… There were just so many things I loved about Alaska. I have people that I call family there. I loved my kiddos I worked with, they were the reason I woke up in the morning. I never stopped being in awe of the beauty. Alaska was the place I thought I would be for a very long time. However, there were also dark parts of me in Alaska; a side of me I hadn’t seen in a long time. I would isolate myself, avoiding any human contact for as long as I could. I thought about not living anymore, more often than I would like to admit. It got scary. So, as much as the pros of the island were really great, the dark pieces of me were longing to feel light again. After a lot of consideration (and getting hired, which the whole plan was contingent on) I decided to make the move. I spent my last few weeks in Alaska with the people I love, exploring the island. It was the most beautiful 4 weeks of my entire time there. I then loaded up my car, got back on the three day ferry that got me there in the first place, drove to Wisconsin, then flew to NYC all in a total of 5 days. Talk about a wild ride… There has not been a day since I left where I don’t think about the island. There will always be a part of my heart there, just like there was always a part of my heart left in NYC.

Coming back to the city felt like coming home. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I could feel a weight lift off of me. When I was in Alaska and working through my depression, I didn’t realize how far down the hole I had gotten until I was out of the hole and breathing again. It is difficult to recognize something is wrong, after it had been wrong for so long, because that starts to feel like your new normal. I have said this before, but it bares repeating: My depression is my friend. She is a comfort in a lot of ways and often I don’t notice when she has over stayed her welcome, but when she leaves there is an immediate ability to reflect on all the harm she does.

I think I appreciated her presence even more in Alaska because I was going through heartbreak. (I like how I said that in past tense, like I am not still going through heartbreak. Cute.) I felt rejected and hurt and my depression validated my feelings. I would say I was worthless and she would say “yeah, you’re right. Let’s just stay in bed.” At that time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. Ending my relationship made me feel extremely out of control, but giving into my depression made me feel safe. I am sure many of you are wondering about my breakup and want more details, but it just isn’t going to happen. The wounds are still there and I think they will be there for awhile. Love hurts, ya know? *Cue Nazareth (1976)*

While I am not talking about the breakup specifics, I do want to talk about what I have been going through emotionally, in hopes that maybe I find some more healing. Mostly, at this stage, I have felt frustrated. The idea of going through that whole process again to potentially go through more heartbreak is v. upsetting. There has to be an easier way, right? I mean, I guess it’s called being alone, but that doesn’t sound fun either. On top of feeling frustrated, I am also feeling alarmingly scared. I have lost a lot of trust. So much so that I start to panic around strangers, assuming that they want to hurt me in some way. I have been on edge, particularly around male-identifying humans. I know it’s not fair that a few bad experiences have made me generalize, but trust me I am working through it. We’ll get to how in just a moment. I have also felt very confused. I constantly miss this person, yet know I shouldn’t be with this person, but also can’t stop comparing everyone to this person, and all my feelings get jumbled up into a big ball of mess. One big, confused, fucked up, ball of mess. Pretty much the epitome of human existence, I think.

The good thing about all these feelings I have been experiencing is that I am officially out of it, so I can start to work through some of these things. Living in Alaska, seeing them every day… it was really hard and what was harder was letting go. Right now, that is all I am really focusing on. Letting go of the past in hopes that I am making all the best choices for my future. Which is why I am back to blogging and back to focusing on myself and my needs. ALSO, I deleted social media off of my phone and only visit the pages for blogging purposes. It has made a world of difference. My own self-esteem has increased by at least 40%, and honestly, I think that is a gross underestimate. I realized the constant comparing I was doing and the damage it was causing. I would search his page daily, wondering if he was thinking about me. I would find myself googling plastic surgery, calculating how much I would have to save to start looking like the models I follow. It was hazardous. Healing from this way of thinking is the most rewarding part of my journey thus far.

Another part of my healing plan, and desire to get back to trusting others, has included dating again. *EEK*  This is that part of the story that we weren’t ready for earlier. That’s right, friends… A billion dates with men is on the agenda. Okay, maybe not a billion, but really I am trying to create my own form of exposure therapy. I figure that the more dates I go on, the more comfortable I will start to feel around the male-identifying population and perhaps may even find feelings for one them. *not holding breath* It is refreshing to go in with this mentality, solely because I feel very much in control of each situation. I don’t spend time wondering if I am putting on a good show. I actually haven’t worn makeup or dressed up for a single date yet. I am genuinely just there to hear their story and find connection with the human sitting in front of me. I don’t know if this technique is for everyone, but it certainly seems to be working for me. So far, they have all been pretty decent dates too, so that is helping the journey go smoother. *Informercial voice over* Some of the side effects to this form of treatment include: spending a lot of money on dates, being out too late on work nights, spending 5 minutes prior to a date exploring what to do if the person tries to murder you, and of course *relationships not guaranteed*. Other than those few hiccups, it is fun.

I am also dating myself again which is always my favorite thing to do and actually blossomed out of my first blog. RIP Tumblr blog. Last weekend I took myself to the movies. I’ve taken myself out to dinner a few times. I love taking myself out for coffee. I am an excellent coffee drinker/people watcher date FYI. I gave myself time to write. I heart self-love and I am glad I am giving me the attention I deserve.

And with that, I would like to end on a poem I wrote, as I try to further develop my poetic skills and continue to show myself love and compassion in new adventures:

 


The way the wind rustles the leaves

That is the way I fall in love.

Light and mesmerizing,

without a path to follow.

 

The way the fire burns with rage

That is the way I fall out of love.

Powerful and dangerous,

without water to make it stop.

 

The way the water ebbs and flows

That is the way I heal my soul.

In and out, in and out, in and out

without an end in sight.

 

The way the earth exists for us

That is the way I exist for others.

 

 

Alaska, My Love

Woah, y’all. Life has been crazy. I am talking “can you believe?” crazy! The kind of crazy that makes you want to dance and smile and be all kinds of happy. The thing I find most interesting about this happy dance time of mine is that I find it more difficult to write when I am feeling good. I believe it is similar to the idea that ‘therapy is only necessary when you aren’t feeling good’. It is supposed to fix the problems and there can’t possibly be problems when you are happy, right? *Momentary pause as I try to control my laughter* So, my life is the good kind of crazy right now, complete with all emotions coursing through my body, but joy is leading the way. This shift in emotional leaders all started when I got to leave the island.

I am sure you all would like to hear a little bit more about my trip to Anchorage because I really left y’all hanging. IT WAS MAGICAL. Anchorage is absolutely beautiful. It is the type of city that is surrounded by mountains and water and so. many. stars. Which reminds me, I had my first Northern Lights spotting. I would like to beg anyone to go see the Northern Lights and then try to argue with me about how life isn’t just a big magic show. THEY ARE LIGHTS THAT DANCE ACROSS THE SKY. Need I say more? On top of that, there is food that is to die for, hiking that is out of this world, a mall with an ice skating rink and a bowling alley… and my favorite part, Target. Yes, I am basic and yes, I did go to Target twice in the five days I was there. Not sorry.

As always on my trips I got to meet some wonderful people. That is always my favorite part of traveling. I am revived by the stories l hear from the people I will probably never see again and they still manage leave this impression on me that lasts forever. In case you forgot from my previous post, I was in Anchorage for a work training. It really sets the tone for meeting a lot of people doing some pretty bad-ass work in Alaska. I met a woman from Wisconsin *represent* who vacationed in Alaska and her vacations would get longer and longer until she just decided to stay. Since moving here she has been dedicated to building strong families across Alaska. We also talked about the Packers making it to the Super Bowl this year and her desire to never birth her own children. She was fantastic. I also met a woman from the FBI who works on fighting sex-trafficking and we talked about what self-care looks like for her in her line of work. In case you are wondering, it involves a lot of talking. There was also our fantastic bartender at the hotel who whipped out a knife to demonstrate that ‘Lucy can take care of herself!’ Oh, and the ice cream shop owners that were both packing heat as we ate our ice cream. Plus, out of all these great people, I also got to know my coworkers better! Couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

However, the most interesting aspect of leaving was missing my small town of Craig. If you go and read some of my previous posts, never did I ever think I would say those words. I really did though. I missed not having so many options. I oddly enjoy knowing I have basically one store to get my groceries. I also enjoy not having a Dave and Busters because that really messed with my head. I will never re-enter that hell pit again. I missed no traffic. I missed the air in Craig. Anchorage is exceptionally dry. (That tundra life tho.) I missed my friends and my job and my views and my car. It has been a little less than 5 months since I have moved here and I finally feel like I am starting to put down some roots and this odd little island is starting to feel more and more like home.

The thing I truly love about Prince of Wales Island, is the rich history that seeps into the way of life here. I spent yesterday out in Kasaan which is the Tlingit word translating to beautiful town. Kasaan 100% lives up to it’s name. It was flush with deep green trees and water that extended out to kiss the base of mountains. I have a jacket pocket filled deep with seashells and stones. I helped harvest devils club which could potentially be one of my cool, new hobbies? Though jam making is still a top contender. I felt extremely calm as I peeled the bright green root from the branch which helped make devils club tea. In that moment I understood why people come to vacation here and sometimes never leave. This island can transport you to a different time. I got chills as I sat in the Chief Son-i-Hat Whale House after just listening to the history and recent restoration of the ‘house with no nails’. MAGIC. I learned so much yesterday that I feel like I could write a whole book. As a person that loves school it was my favorite thing to be able to sit quietly and inhale all the knowledge that people on this island not only know, but live and breath by.

As is evident by my previous blog posts, I have bad days… sometimes bad weeks. Heck, high school was like four bad years. Yet, the more I am here the less I find myself trapped in that negative space. As I referenced in the beginning I feel happy and it is not because I don’t feel those other emotions, but because those other emotions pale in comparison to a clear sky in Alaska. I talk to families day in and day out about trauma and when I come home I take just a moment to look up. It makes the pain and heartache feel manageable. Witnessing nature is the best medicine I have found thus far and Alaska is abundant in it. Alaska, slowly, but surely, I am falling for you.

*Featured image was taken yesterday from the Kasaan beach. For more pictures from my Alaskan adventures follow me on Instagram: sarahlorrainerobinson *

Love Thy Naked Body

I am deprived of sleep, food, water and motivation. Forgive me Yeezy, for I have gone to a work conference. Since I hate skipping days, but have zero thoughts of what I would like to write about I am going to do a re-post from my previous blog of one of my favs. I hope you enjoy it. I will return with your regularly scheduled, up-to-date blog post next week.

‘I know we have all done this, some of more than others, but it is widely known that all people stare at themselves naked. If we didn’t stare at ourselves we wouldn’t be able to recognize changes in our bodies and that, my friends, is bad for science. Something particularly beautiful happened to me today as I stared at my naked body. Well, I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Let me begin with the basics of naked staring. I bet if I took a poll at who looked at themselves naked, everyone would say “Yes! I do!” If I took a second poll from that 100% and asked “how many stare at their body and don’t like what they see?” I am guessing that number would be around 70%. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but from all the remarks I hear on self esteem I can’t imagine there is a large number of us who like our naked selves. I know I was part of that 70%. The worst part is I would be thinking about what others would think… about MY NAKED BODY. I would sit there and think to myself, “no wonder I am single, look at me”. How fucked up is that? First of all, if we picked our significant others based on how the naked body looks to us we would all be walking around naked, all the time. I could join a nudist colony if I wanted that. Also, have you seen naked men? I enjoy them keeping it in pants. Those things just fly all over the place! I wouldn’t be able to go to the grocery store without fear of getting stabbed by their pork swords… Second of all, I never thought to wonder what Ithought of my naked body. This is where the beautiful thing comes into play. I am standing in front of my full length mirror and I stop for a second and think “damn, I look good.” In fact, Meghan Trainer came into my head. You know, ‘all the right junk, in all the right places’.

It was like I saw my body as my own for the first time. The best part was that it had nothing to do with my weight loss. Even if I hadn’t lost a single pound yet I would have been able to really look at myself. I saw the way my body curves and sags and bends. How fucking cool is that? My body was my own today, for the first time in a really long time. I didn’t ponder over what boys would think or how I would compare standing next to Natalie Portman, I was just looking at me. I can’t describe to you how therapeutic it is until you discover it yourself.

Today, I watched a video on upworthy.com about diets and how they are controlled by capitalism. I know it almost sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it was actually pretty valid. In the video she made a lot of really good points. The best point being the fact that we blame ourselves when diets don’t work. We see ourselves as the failures vs. the diet being the failures. It echoed around in my brain, “failure, failure, failure” *light bulb* “Wait, I am not a failure?” No, I am not and neither are you. Okay, I guess I don’t personally know everyone reading this, but if you have any experiences like mine via addiction, I am guessing you are not a failure. When I looked at myself in the mirror I realized everything I thought I knew was so very wrong about humans. We are a goddamn piece of art. If you put us all together with all of our shades and shapes and thoughts, we are the David of sculptures. The Northern Lights of the sky. We are pretty amazing.

Love thy naked body. ‘

-Reposted from wiscocheesefries.tumblr.com [Feb 8th, 2015]

 

Committing to Adventure

Alright folks, today is a big day. It may not seem like a big day you to you mainlanders, but to me it is huge! I am leaving the island for the first time in four months. ANCHORAGE HERE I COME. This has been the biggest struggle for me living here… knowing I can’t just get away. This I think is good for me in a lot of ways. I am a runner in all senses of the word. I like to physically run and I really enjoy mentally running. Dear future husband, Runaway Bride is a severe possibility. Here is your warning. I say that it is good for me though because it is teaching me to accept a lot of things about myself. Many of those things are the things I keep running from.

For instance, I have to accept this very fact I am writing about… Commitment. *shudders* Commitment is super scary to me. I don’t like feeling stuck and committing to something really feels like it means I am stuck. There are really beautiful things about being stuck though. Like maybe you are stuck because you are in a crowd in a concert that you love and their music is gracing your ear holes. Or maybe you are stuck because the person you love has glued you to their side and you are with that person for life and you know no matter how smelly your poop is they will still love you. And just perhaps you are stuck on a magical little island in Alaska figuring out that being stuck isn’t always a bad thing. No matter how much I am forced to look at the beauty of being stuck though, every part of my body will always yearn for travel. That bug will never die. I suppose you could say I am stuck with it…

So, the thing I really want to focus on today is why I love traveling so much. Because I really love traveling. ‘Can you believe?’ I mean I love all parts of traveling. That’s right, folks, I love being stinky and sitting next to weird strangers and having to continually lug around my bags around an airport and getting groped by TSA. There is something so incredibly intoxicating about an airport. Honestly, airplanes in general are pure magic and will never make sense to me. Little buses for the sky that just commute people at 500 mph. Now, that I really can’t believe. THE FUTURE IS NOW.

I think what I love so much about the adventure is the unpredictability. I am a very scheduled person. I get up, I make my breakfast, I go to work, I go for a run, I watch friends on M,W,F and Rise on Tuesday and Jersey Shore and my missed episode of Riverdale on Thursdays. On the weekends I am a little more flexible, but it’s generally the same. Of course, big things happen in between, but for my own anxiety levels it helps to have a general routine. When I am traveling though, some other Sarah takes over. All of the sudden my mindset of what I need goes out of the window. There are strangers to meet and new places to explore. “Did I just see a sign for the world’s best cup of coffee, I better check that out! Oh, according to yelp, the world’s largest shoe lives here. Oh Em Gee, Kesha has stood in this exact spot I am standing on. This pool is nice. I am never leaving this pool.” DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN? I just become this cool, calm, collected go with the flow type. I am not that type. I’m the type A, all dishes must be moved from the sink and all laundry folded immediately. You tell me I am on vacation though and all of the sudden something clicks in my brain. It’s fascinating really.

My favorite part though, is the feeling of freedom I get from jumping town to town, state to state, and country to country. I know I have an exorbitant amount of privilege for being able to do so. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such privilege and I wholeheartedly wish I could share it with everyone. That is why I love that I travel and have a blog (and an Instagram), I can share things with those that can’t necessarily get there. Even though I can’t go buying people plane, train, and automobile passes, I can take your imaginations and possibly give you an idea for your own adventures.

Which reminds me, that if you can’t travel there is always unpredictability outside of your door. Just because we have lived somewhere for some time, doesn’t mean there isn’t something new to discover. Each day is an adventure… that could lead to a magic bus in the sky.

Send me your new discoveries! I would love to get a glimpse of your adventures. & if you would like to see my travel to Anchorage this week follow me on Insta: sarahlorrainerobinson

PS: I am going for work, so it’s not exactly a vacation, but if a magic sky bus is involved that’s all my brain needs to make the switch to ‘go with the flow’ Sarah.

 

It’s Island Life, Baby

Before I begin my post today I have to comment on the bravery of our youth. Unfortunately, I did not participate in the marches yesterday. I honestly believe that there are more guns than people on this island. I was also informed that it would likely hinder my job with my clients in a lot of ways, so I keep to myself. And by that, I mean I go on social media and retween/reblog/regram and write. These young adults are warriors standing up to bullies. One time in high school me and a friend went around our school hanging posters and creating a Facebook page trying to get people not to vote for one of our classmates who was running for the school board. I thought I was political and involved. Yeesh. This demonstration has proved me wrong. Kids came out in droves yesterday. And so many spoke… publicly… I AM SO IMPRESSED AND INSPIRED. To these young adults, with all your vigor and fight, it is the first time in a long time I could feel change. The youth will save us all from ourselves and I believe that. I was never vocal when I needed to be. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I found a platform that I felt safe/comfortable using my voice. I wish I learned at an earlier age that adults can be wrong and that it happens more often than we think. Yesterdays demonstration was a reminder to me that we are all more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. A sincere thank you to the kids that have found their voice and reminded me of mine. I support you. #MARCHFOROURLIVES

Speaking of more guns than people on this island, on today’s agenda I have decided that I would like to discuss island life. A strange life. A beautiful life. A ‘how the eff did I get here?’ life. Prince of Wales Island, Alaska is unlike anything I have ever heard of. First of all, it is a huge. In fact, it is the fourth largest island in the United States (my source is Wikipedia for that, but I don’t get paid to write this so take that as you may). I haven’t explored much of the island, but I hear it is beautiful. I am waiting for it to warm up just a tad, so I am not just seeing the beauty through my car windows. It rains like most of the time, even in winter, because FUN FACT it is a rain forest. I thought this would get to me, but it really doesn’t. The nice days are extra nice. When the sun is out it is like I am a whole new person. It’s pretty amazing. If you are into nature and/or extremes this place is for you. There are so many little bits and pieces of living on a island that just do not happen on the mainland.

I have officially been here for a little over 3 months and some days it feels as though it has been 3 years and other days it feels like it has been 3 days. Time feels different here. We literally have our own time zone, something I was unaware of until I moved here. I call my friends back on the east coast and they are hopping into bed just as I am finishing work. Scheduling phone calls with people in different time zones is a nightmare. The other reason time feels different here is because we all live on island time. Island time is this fantastic notion that there is no such thing as being in a rush. Work starts at 8, so as long as you are there before 8:30, you good. I bet y’all could get used to that. Going from NYC where everyone is always in a rush to island time has been a difficult transition for me. I am voted most likely to be the first to an event. I am working on slowing down, but I think subway anxiety just never leaves you.

When people see the island, most assume “cost of living must be so low!” HA! Joke is on them. Everything, and I mean everything, we have on the island has to be shipped to us. What does this mean? It means that groceries are outrageous. For my tax refund this year, I decided I can use all my extra cash to by fresh fruits. However, the upside to this is that I am basically only spending money on groceries and rent. There is not really clothing stores here and online ordering has always been troublesome for me. I am short and fat. I don’t like those odds without being able to try something on. Fast food is nonexistent as well. This is a saving grace for me. The only thing we have is two pizza places and a diner. Honestly, (please don’t shun me) pizza is not my favorite. I’d rather have a sandwich. Yeezy, do I miss my sandwich places. Sometimes I dream of a sub from Jersey Mikes or Cousins. I’m pretty sure my first trip off the island I will gain 100 lbs. just because I will be so overwhelmed with my options of fast food I will eat them all. I’m cool with it. As I said though, talk about a money saver. I spent way more than I care to admit on fast food in NYC. I was the queen of grubhub and front door wine delivery. I miss these things while simultaneously being so thankful they are not available to me.

The most fascinating transition on the island has been from winter to spring. I heard it all winter long: “Trust me, it is such a different place when it is spring. All of the sudden there will be whales, seals, otters, bears. [OH MY!] You won’t even recognize the island.” Granted, I have only gotten a glimpse of this, but they were not kidding. I saw my first whale and I was so excited I regressed to being a 2 year old. I was clapping and jumping around. I will not lie… winter is ROUGH here. The sun goes down at like 2pm. It is dark and cold and it was all the more difficult for me because I didn’t have a whole lot of friends because I was/am new. This was the depression cocktail my introvert half of me was looking for. I felt like I was hibernating with the bears. I barely remember the month of December which is v. unlike me because that is my favorite month (and [not] coincidentally the birthday month of moi, Britney, and Jay-z). I can’t even begin to imagine what summer is like here. One nice day with whales and I am a new woman. Rumor has it the sun stays out until 11pm. I am talking the literal opposite of winter. I am also hoping by next winter I will discover a hobby like jam making or something cool like that to occupy my dark days. I’ll use my summer energy to discover such hobby. *My idea of what is cool may vary from others*

Speaking of whales, the nature here is like living on front of national geographic. I see a minimum of 2 eagles a day, and that’s without leaving my apartment. I haven’t seen a bear yet, but I can’t wait. There are tree’s everywhere. Oh and did I mention it is an island, so there is also water everywhere. To quote a personal hero, Moana, “I’ve been staring at the edge of the water, ‘long as I can remember” & it really does call me. I am never as happy as I am when I am in, near, or around water. Good thing I chose an island I suppose. The views are instagram gold. I can’t go 2 days without posting a landscape photo. It’s an addiction. I love to capture the everyday beauty that exists here.

Speaking of beauty, one of my favorite parts of the island are the humans that occupy it. Sure, bears are great, but so are the people! If you would have told me that one day I would be living on an island where MAGA hats are common and guns are owned by everyone you know except for you and the other new person that moved to island, I probably would have been like “nah… I’m good.” Except living here has been a reminder that I believe most people are inherently good. I know this is the hopeless romantic in me and I also know I speak from a place of privilege, but if y’all could see it. I may not agree with their politics or ideals or religion, but if I am ever in a pickle here, I am not worried. It doesn’t matter where I am from or that I am new, people have invited me into their homes. People trust me with their kids. Everyone smiles and says hello to me. If I need something, I can go to my neighbors house and if they don’t have it, someone they know will. I could get all the help I could ever need here. I have not seen a community like this anywhere else I have lived. In New York, I spoke to my neighbors maybe twice and it was only because I was forced on the elevator with them and I hated every minute of it. Here, people talk to you all day long. They also don’t care that I am terrified of guns or have a Hillary picture next to my bed stand. They ask me about my day and how I am settling in and check-in on me. Complete strangers do this. I kid you not. Since I am heavily involved in politics and hope to one day be a politician, it can be hard to separate people from these two polar opposites we have created. I am an optimist through and through. Call me naive (as my first boss out of undergrad did) but I don’t really care. I believe that we as humans care about other humans, first and foremost. We need to break down walls. To do that we need to talk and remember that we all have beating hearts inside of us and we are all connected in this way. I was reminded of this as I watched Queer Eye and that beautiful moment between Karamo Brown, a black man, and Cory, a white cop. If we want to remind people of humanity, we have to demonstrate humanity to all. Not just those who we agree with. Don’t get me wrong, this island has it’s problems and not everyone gets along, but for the most part people have each others backs here. It is a magnificent thing to witness.

I did not expect to go on that rant. Sorry, not sorry.

So, just to recap:

  1. ENOUGH
  2. Island life is unlike any other life.
  3. What is time?
  4. ALL MY MONEY GOES TO GROCERIES
  5. I love subs.
  6. winter is rough
  7. summer is magic
  8. Prince of Wales is a beautiful place
  9. Instagram is my addiction
  10. Humans are humans
  11. Love wins

I hope this all made sense. I am still getting over a strange sickness and it has been making me wonky. Which reminds me, island life is also living in a petri dish of illness. If you have any questions about island life and my time in Alaska feel free to ask away! And if you are interested in seeing these views I speak of follow me on instagram: sarahlorrainerobinson
 

Brain Exercises

Here’s the deal, if I would’ve decided that my blog days were for Mondays, you might be getting a very different post. Last Monday, I felt jaded and cynical and basically wanted to go live under a rock. It is always interesting to me how quickly our thoughts can change. How, just one sunny day can make a difference. Lucky for all of you, today’s post is the culmination of good ass television (that’s the technical term if you didn’t now), sunshine, MY FIRST WHALE SIGHTING, and youth. There are other things I could sprinkle in there, but those are the main mood changers. Of course, for the purpose of this blog, I am mainly going to focus on that good ass television. As y’all know, I can’t discuss the good without the bad. (This could be the most dramatic blog yet.)

There is a lot of bad television I could write about on here. I am basically the queen of bad TV. I watch these TV shows knowing full well how toxic they can be. Case in point, The Bachelor. The Bachelor is drama gold. All you really need for drama is to put a bunch of strangers in a room and boom there will be drama. BUT THEN you have them all start dating the same person. Pure. Gold. Many of you may or may not know that The Bachelor received some heavy backlash at one point because it is super white. Like whiter than an Irish person in the middle of winter (I’m Irish, so it’s okay. PS Happy St. Patty’s Day). Then they got Rachel Lindsay as the bachelorette and she was a queen and, coincidentally (not really), the first black bachelorette… on the 13th season. It took bachelor nation quite some time to own up to their lack of diversity, but once the conversation started they couldn’t put it away. We were then graced with Rachel. Even though, I disagreed with her decision, she made a great bachelorette. #teampeter4life. Now, there is a new conversation I would like to start with bachelor nation.

It may surprise you when I say I want to go on the The Bachelor. I can’t think of anything more exciting than trying to find love in front of the nation. Plus, like bomb-ass dates that you can’t really get anywhere else. I also figured if I can’t find love the good ole’ fashion tinder way, I could try my hand at that. Of course, the thing that plays over and over in my head is that I don’t think there has ever been a bachelorette on the show that is over a size 4. I am sure you can see where this is going. “If I lose weight, I can find love!” Apparently, all really is fair in love and war. I guess it’s fair that I didn’t feel worthy because of my size and wanted to change everything about me. I guess it is fair that only thin girls should get a chance on the bachelor. What guy would pick the bigger girl anyhow? WHAT A CROCK! **Catch that Three Men and a Little Lady reference**

I had these thoughts all last weekend, dancing around in my head. Wondering what the scale would say on my next weigh-in day. Did I lose 100 pounds this weekend? I sure hoped so. “I wish I wasn’t fat.” STOP. “I wish I felt worthy.” STOP. “I wonder what I will look like with less fat.” STOP. “What if I lose the weight and I still feel unworthy?”

STOP.

Then it happens. Tuesday. I wake up with the same thoughts, but end the day with a completely different head. “Why?” you might ask. That’s right, more television. I have cable now, okay? This show, unlike the bachelor, reminded me that I am more than that damn number. In fact, I am a human being. SURPRISE! Not a robot. So, if you aren’t watching This Is Us, I urge you to catch up. They just ended the second season, so you have plenty of time until season 3. You’re welcome. *Minimal spoiler alerts ahead* This last episode was about Kate (played by the ever-so-lovely Chrissy Metz) and her wedding day. Honestly crying just thinking about it. That’s how you know it is some damn good writing. For those of you that don’t know, Kate is plus-size. Here I am ruminating about how I need to lose weight to find love and then I see this beautiful women in this beautiful wedding dress and I started to cry. Representation matters. I know it’s a fictional show and Kate is an actress and she wasn’t really getting married, but it made me hit the breaks. It stopped my toxic bachelor thoughts dead in their tracks. It turned my “I need to lose weight to be on the Bachelor” to “LET FAT WOMEN GET A CHANCE AT LOVE.” Maybe we could start it trending? They had #bachlorsowhite last time, so I’m thinking #bachelorsothin? Open to others though.

On the most recent season of the bachelor, Seinne Fleming, a black woman, shared that as a kid she didn’t see women like her find love and that impacted the way she saw herself. It made me think about the plus-size women I have seen find love on TV. I could only think of one, Sookie St. James, played by Melissa McCarthy, on Gilmore Girls. She wasn’t the leading role, so I tried to think really hard of a main character. Fat women, when I was a kid, weren’t the leading roles. I am happy that we are seeing a change in this category, but it is still nowhere near where it could be. The lead roles need a diversity makeover, IMHO. However, as I was watching Kate get married I thought to myself, some young girl is watching this and is being told that she can find love. That her size does not determine what she deserves in life. What we ingest, not just through food, but through everything we see and/or feel,  shapes how we see ourselves. Our reality is subjective. We are influenced every day, in a million different, little ways. Honestly, I am glad I had those negative thoughts because it is so easy to fall into those patterns of hate and self-loathing. What is not easy is turning on those thoughts. The more I have those thoughts and the more I can interrupt those thoughts, the stronger my brain becomes.

I often remind my clients that we are apt to think of the negative before the positive because back when we were cave women and cave men it saved us. Every day we were on the lookout for danger. Now, these thoughts are the danger. It takes a lot of effort to say STOP to those negative thoughts. It takes even more effort to challenge them. Just like running a marathon, the training is slow and steady. Each time you challenge them your brain muscle does a little “the beach is that way” flex. When TV and books and friends challenge us, it only makes it easier for us to do the same. (Oh, and please note that when I say challenge it is the literal opposite of trolling.)

I also get the pleasure of working with youth, so I can encourage these brain exercises at a younger age. I feel lucky to do that. I also feel lucky because in a time and place where the news creates these negative thoughts, (i.e. will there be a nuclear war?) I get to go into work. I am reminded that the future is sitting in front of me and they make me feel so safe. No matter the terrible political climate we have now, I am so hopeful for a better future.

I encourage all of you to go find those things that challenge your negative thoughts. Find evidence to the contrary. And if you’re anything like me, the best way to suck the venom out is to breath first, think later.

 

Stories are Awareness

I would like to start this post with a follow-up from last week, as promised. I went to yoga AND I went snowshoeing with a friend. Unfortunately, I did not meet someone new in the community and talk to them about anything other than the weather. I’m sorry, y’all, but it was sunny ALL weekend on Prince of Wales and that is rare and therefore that is what you talk about. I’ll keep working on that one. This weather may also be why I have a pep in my step, or it could be from all the oxygen I consumed on my hike yesterday. Jury is still out. No matter where it came from I am welcoming it with open arms.

**Trigger warning: Discussion of bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating**

As I welcome the renewed sense of self, there is something I think I need to talk about today. Something that I promised I wouldn’t talk about, but seeing as it’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I only find it appropriate. I think part of the reason I didn’t want to write about binge eating was because I felt like I was relapsing, the other part was as I said; I am obsessive even when I am eating right and the more I blog about it the more it becomes my world. That’s why I am allowing myself to write about it today; stories are awareness. As Jordan Peele best stated “I think it builds empathy… story is the most powerful weapon for change… I think of story as a weapon against violence, against the bigotry, against hatred, against the policies.” Now, here is my story:

The first time I can remember really feeling fat was in the fifth grade. I was 10 years old and I took a picture with my best friend. I remember looking at the picture and thinking about how terrible I looked. It was one of those Polaroid pictures that printed out right away… I wanted to tear it up and never see it again. Unfortunately, the picture got to hang in the hallway of our school, so every day I would walk past it and think about how ugly I was. I saw my friend who was thin and blonde and perfect, standing next to an ogre. Reminder, I was 10. 10 years old. I just have to keep repeating it because sometimes I can barely believe it. I shouldn’t have been holding beauty standards like this against myself. Honestly, this is my first memory of it, but it doesn’t mean it was the first time I felt fat or ugly.

Then there was cheerleading. I started cheerleading in the 5th grade and I loved it. I loved that I could yell at the top of my lungs and no one thought it was strange. I was as quiet as a mouse and this was my time to shine. When I was out on the track I really did feel like a star. I didn’t think about my size or my hair or what problem I had that day. I just got to yell and look strong as I held other girls up in the air. I got to be a base for someone and that helped contrast the fact that I always felt like I was floating away. However, the day we got outfits assigned to us was also a day I can’t seem to forget. “This one doesn’t fit either… I need the next size up” I said, after trying on my third skirt and holding back my tears. I was mortified. I loved every other part of cheerleading, except for the day we got our outfits assigned. I did cheerleading for seven more years and every year I dreaded that day.

Then middle school happens and everyone’s body is a hot mess and everyone is a bully. Middle school is a war zone for self-esteem. This is my first memory of binge eating. If I was going to wear the XL cheerleading uniform, I might as well own it. Always seconds on lunch. Bags of chips at sleepovers that disappear mysteriously. Telling my friends I didn’t eat dinner, when I ate dinner at home, but their parents would make us a second dinner. I one time made a bet to date a boy for 3 months for free cookies. That was a low. They were really good cookies though.

Onto high school where my eating really gets disordered. I am 15 and still haven’t had a boyfriend and this seems problematic. “Is it because I eat too much? Maybe I shouldn’t eat at all?” Of course that didn’t last long because I loved food and food loved me. I know that in my lifetime I have said “I am so jealous of people that can be anorexic” more than I care to admit. That sentence makes me shudder. Anorexia is deadly and I was jealous of those killing themselves. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health states that anorexia is the most fatal mental health diagnosis. I am so sorry to anyone I have said this to. After I realized that I couldn’t starve myself, I moved onto binging and purging, also known as bulimia. I figured this way I could have my McDonald’s and eat it too and then forget that I had McDonald’s. This went on for quite some time, but not consistently. Luckily, my friends were too observant for me to be able to excuse myself after every meal. It would be more like once or twice a week. This was not effective for weight loss, as I so desperately wanted, but definitely upped my cavity count.

This all leads to my binge eating disorder which became most problematic when I moved out on my own for the first time. Since I was alone more than I had ever been before, I could hoard food and go to multiple restaurants and nobody wondered about it. I could lie and say I was at class and it they believed me.  Forget the Freshman 15, hello Freshman 50. I wasn’t in cheerleading anymore and I had free range of a dining hall and groups that pulled people in with “Free Pizza” signs. College is also known for it’s copious amounts of alcohol and since I was sober until I was 18, this was a world of binging I never knew. Of course all of this was coinciding with depression. Talk about the hot mess express. Binging become my constant, my comfort. I would go a very long time binging and then realize I should be healthier and I would work out for a couple months maybe eat some more fruits and veggies, then I would relapse again. This cycle continued over and over and over again. Once I got to my mid-20’s I realized something had to change. Drastically.

Now for the good part, because even I am like woah.. when does this get better? It got better when I started telling people about my story.  I started going to therapy. I told my friends the struggles I’ve had with food. I started a blog about it. I read articles upon articles about girls and boys who have had the same experiences. Even the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual) recognized binge eating disorder and added it to the most recent update. I now know how and where to reach out for help. When I do feel like I am relapsing I tell people. I yell it from the rooftops “I HAVE A PROBLEM!” Because there is no shame in having a problem. That was the best lesson I ever learned. Problems are natural and when we keep them a secret they will continue to be a problem. Knowing that I can reach out makes my relapses smaller and my comebacks bigger. I am hoping eventually eating will just be something I do when I am hungry instead of having to keep track. For now, I talk about it. I am only strengthened by those who I allow to lift me up. My family, my friends, and my readers lift me up. You all become my base when I feel like I am floating away.

So, as early as age 10 I remember hating my body and this turned into several years of disordered eating. This is not natural. This is a social construct of beauty that we put on people at a very young age. We talk about our negative self-image in front of our daughters and sons and they hear it. We blast weight loss products and chip commercials in the same breath. We write “fat bitch” in the comments. Children begin to internalize that self-hate is the norm… when that should be so far from the truth. The more we talk about the pieces of ourselves we love, the better off the generation after us will be. And honestly, when we start to realize as a society that food is a means to live rather than a money-making business we will all benefit from it. Mind you, I use the term “we” because we are all part of this society whether we want to be or not and it is up to all of us to change it. Oh, and to the media, I see you trying to represent more bodies, and I applaud that, but we can do better. I know we can. Looking at you, The Bachelor.

If you feel like you or someone you know is experiencing disordered eating, please reach out to me, someone you feel comfortable with, or the National Eating Disorder Hotline 800.931.2237 You are not alone.

 

PS I feel like my posts have been a little heavy the past few weeks, so I would like to write something a little more upbeat next week. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

My Longest Relationship

As one of my favorite days approaches, I would like to breach the topic of love with y’all. Now, I hope I haven’t lost half my audience already because sometimes just the notion of love makes people want to vomit. I get it, trust me, I do. Fun fact though, love isn’t only made for people in romantic relationships. I have been single for most of my life and I have found head over heels love in a lot of different ways. I have friendships that make me want to scream from a mountain top. I have the love of my family… and that love is so unconditional I could steal all their clothes and they would still love me. I could literally go on and on about the love I have outside of a romantic relationship, but the one I really want to discuss today is the love I have for myself.

TBH, Valentine’s Day was not always one of my favorite days. In fact, in high school I used to make sure I wore black. I had to mourn the fact that I was, yet again, all alone. No one was buying me flowers. It was that ‘none for Gretchen Wieners’ rage I would feel. “Why don’t boys like me?” I would cry, as Dashboard Confessional sang ballads of heart break into my ear. Did I mention I was an emo kid in high school? Maybe boys did like me in high school. I would never know though, because I was too busy hating myself to ever notice. And of course, I was pining for the boy I would never actually want to love me. The cool kid, on the football team, who was a bully. This became a cycle in my life. Falling for the wrong boys. Wishing that they would love me back, when they were monsters and I should have wanted nothing to do with them.

My early 20’s became a mad hunt for boys. I was running out of time. Not sure where I was getting my time table, but I felt far behind. I would search for the wrong love, mostly because it was the most convenient love. Any boys that would listen. Usually it was boys at the bar and usually they weren’t really listening. They would listen just enough to make me think that maybe it could go somewhere. Surprise! It never went very far. I would literally take a puzzle piece that was the complete wrong shape and try to make it fit. “Well, they hate the type of music I am into and they mock my Poli. Sci. major… but he seems like a good guy.” How low I had the bar back then. ‘He seems like a good guy’ now sounds like the title to a horror movie I should produce.

Then BAM! I turn 25 and something happens. I don’t know if it was my move to NYC, the fact that I was halfway to 30, or knowing that Hillary Clinton was running for president, but something in me changed. For the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and I thought about how excited I was to see where my life goes. MY life. I wasn’t thinking about my life as it related to finding a boyfriend. I was picturing me as a social worker, me as a representative of the United States, me as a mother, me as someone who has paid off their credit card. Everything before that moment was me getting by until the moment I found a boyfriend. I hated myself. HATED. I thought that if I found someone to tell me I was beautiful, then it would be true. Of course, I had my friends telling me every day that I was beautiful, but it didn’t count because they weren’t men. It didn’t look like the love I saw in movies.

However, the biggest thing that was missing prior to my 25th birthday light bulb was me loving myself. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. The only person that I am truly in a relationship with for the rest of my life is me. I am with me until the day I day. It sounds corny and stupid. I get it. I’ve talked to many people that believe self-love is bullshit. Maybe I am wrong. I did spend 25 years believing my happiness was hidden in some guy, so it’s fair. But coming to the realization that I was not going anywhere really made me want to try to love myself. Sure, some days are harder than others. I won’t sit here and pretend that I never think about finding a partner or that I never call myself ugly. I have those days more than I would care to admit. The difference now is that it’s not all I know.

I know that I want a partner. Someone who fits the puzzle piece without destroying my shape. And I know that for every day I feel ugly, I make myself look in the mirror and say one nice thing about myself. These shifts alone have made a world of difference for me. And of course, the use of self-care. I know self-care sounds like a fad currently, but to me self-care is telling yourself you love you in even the smallest ways possible. Therefore, Valentine’s Day has become one of my favorite days. I am essentially dating myself. Since the age of 25, I have taken myself out on a date every Valentines Day.  At 25, I got myself a massage. At 26, I treated myself to some float therapy. At 27, I am starting a self-esteem group at the local high school. This is my favorite gift yet.

This Valentines Day, I dare you to date yourself and see how it feels. You may just fall in love with that person.

Magical Humans aka Friends

Ah, it has arrived. My least favorite of all Sundays because I have to hear the name Tom Brady 17000 times and every time I hear his name I want to punch my own face. You may be surprised to know that I LOVE sports. If you just looked at me, you would likely assume sports is not really my thing. It’s fair. I don’t exude competitive behavior. I don’t slap other peoples butts. In fact, I find that rude.  And I don’t drink milk because it gives me tummy problems, even though it’s the official drink of the Olympics. With that being said, some of my favorite heroes and sheroes of all time are Michael Jordan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brett Favre (pre 2007), Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Serena Williams, Simone Biles and the list goes on..

This post however, is not intended to be an all day recount of my love of sports and/or athletes, although it could probably get it’s own post entirely. Have I mentioned I love sports? Honestly, as I was sitting here thinking about what to write today, I just kept thinking about my (s)heroes. Which then of course reminded me of this board game that I play with my clients, which includes a card that ask who your hero is. Which then made me think, “Okay, what is the literal definition of hero?” *You are currently getting a look into how my brain works, scary** Turns out the definition of hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

I’ve got to be honest with y’all, this week has been full of a lot of intense things. I don’t want to get into the details because most of them are not my details to share. I have friends that have a lot on their plate and every time I hear a new challenge they are facing I just think about their courage… bet you can see where I am going with this. Today, I would like to write a post honoring my friends because they are my heroes and because they deserved to be recognized. And even though I love sports, I would much rather watch my friends get rings and paid billions of dollars for doing what they do. They are some of the worlds best people ever created and the greatness they bring to this world often goes unnoticed.

Life is scary right now. I am sure you have all felt it. January was like a whole year long. It’s the dead of winter and every day there is something new in the news that makes me want bury my head in the sand. I am convinced the old saying ‘when it rains it pours’ was created in the month of February because it is flooding. Every conversation I have had with my friends this week has not been light. It seems we are all going through something and I just want to reach through my phone and give them a big hug. I hope that when they read this post they can feel my hug. I want them to feel safe.

Because that is exactly what they do for me. Last week, when I wrote about my depression my friends reached out. From millions of miles away my friends took my hand and told me I was going to be okay because that is the type of people I have managed to bring into my life. Happy to report that I woke up today without the whispers of depression in my ear. Writing this post didn’t feel like a chore. It seems the cloud has lifted. I am often a skeptic when it comes to miracles, but I am telling y’all my friends are magic.

Without dragging this post out to a novel (because I could really write a whole book on the greatness of my friends), I would like to keep it short and to the point.

Dear friends,

I see you. I hear you. I love you. 

Yours truly,

Sarah

No Words Needed.

I set every intention last night to wake up and write about one of my #metoo moments. The bravery of those who have come forward has been both heartbreaking and comforting. I woke up this morning and decided I don’t want to share it. I don’t have to share it. And most importantly the world does not need to know it right now.

What the world does need to know, and more importantly what my readers need to know, is that they are not alone. All these rally cries are warm hugs by those who want to break down the toxic system. These rally cries are about the victims and survivors. Because we are both victims and survivors. People are quick to cast judgement on someone who claims to be a victim. “GIRL, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR… NOT A VICTIM.” No. We are both; we suffered… we may still be suffering. AND we are living.

I felt so proud of the marches that were held all around the world yesterday (there were none in Craig, AK that I found, but I did walk outside with my feminist shirt on and marched around in the rain… so, yeah.) One year later and we are still marching for black and brown lives, for women, for science, for lgbtq+ community, for dreamers, for those who can’t march. I couldn’t help but think of the Hunger Games, because hellloooo THE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE IS NOW. I am watching the speakers that have such beautiful and poetic things to say and I am picturing J.Law looking into the camera saying “If we burn, you burn with us!” This thought gave me all the good tingly revolution feelings because it is about damn time. “Their time is up” as Oprah, said.

And while all this magical goodness is going on around me, I am also very aware of the scary side of things. The things that often keep people inside, under their covers. The fear of war and corruption and literally all of us burning. I am so wholly aware of this that I watched several hours of awesomely terrible cable yesterday to try and distract myself from it. Just so ya know, most everyone did say “yes” to the dress.

Which brings me to why I am not going to write about my #metoo moment today. I will some day, just not today. Today, I would like to use my love interest as the center of this post. *My whole family just gasped and whispered, “Sarah is finally in love!!”* Sorry, fam. I am talking about photography. I did not mean to get your hopes up. I have felt a passion for photography ever since I was a kid. The thing I love most about a picture is not that it is worth 1000 words, but rather it needs no words at all. A good picture leaves you speechless. In a time where words are cutting like knives, I would like to get rid of my weapon for a moment. The series of photos I am going to leave you with date all the way back to 2008. These are some of my favorite pictures that I have taken throughout the last 10 years, in order of oldest to most recent. Of course, I would have many more before 2008, except during a serious dark depression in high school, I got rid of everything on my Facebook. I was v. dramatic, #hormonesmademedoit. It really worked out though because 10 is a solid number. I will not tell you what these photos mean to me, but rather I hope you look at them and perhaps one (or more) may leave you speechless.

let go photobranchcostacalireflectionferris wheelnycwisco skynyc2Screenshot (6)

If you are interested in seeing more of my pictures follow me on insta: @sarahlorrainerobinson