Archive for the ‘walking through the neighborhood’ Tag

show (you) all the beauty you possess, if you only let yourself believe.   Leave a comment

‘Let yourself believe’ was the phrase that found a way into my wine-induced mind last night.  As I walked home from Jenny’s condo after a few hours of friend time and guilty pleasure reality TV, I hung out tightly to these three words hopeful that I’d remember in the morning.  As expected, I forgot them.  However, under a combination of luck and boredom, I made myself remember what I was trying so hard not to forget.  ‘Let yourself believe.’ 

Or better yet, my head told my heart, “Kristen, you have to let yourself finally believe.”

After losing steam at work yesterday, I decided to cancel my other plans for some quality downtime with my friend, Jenny.  So I ran home and changed into a simple, comfy outfit and headed over to watch this week’s episode of The Bachelorette over Chinese food, sushi, and a bottle of white wine.  Not only was it the makings of a perfect night, but also exactly what we both needed.  I like to think of it as therapy.

Somewhere between my wine glass being half empty/half full, I asked Jenny, “Do you think you could really go on this show and believe in the process?”  After admitting her uncertainty she posed the same question on me.  She may be sorry she did that become I had enough wine in me to use the words “cynical” and “lying” in one breath before indulging her in some monologue like this: “I just don’t understand why anyone would want to put themselves in this situation.  Why torment yourself?  Love and life make you crazy enough, so what’s the point of going on a reality show that forces you to compete for love?” 

While finding entertainment in this show and having a few crushes over the years (cough JP cough), I promise that you will never see me on a screen with an ABC icon in the corner…unless I get Chris Harrison’s gig.  The main reason is that, while I appear to be bubbly and optimistic, I am far too cynical to believe that anyone would really want to marry me (or anyone else for that matter) after only knowing them for 6 weeks and in this make-believe (TV) land.

Tonight, as I sat on the rooftop with my friend, Sadie, and another bottle of (white) wine, I escaped the summer funk that I’ve found myself to be in and enjoyed the distraction of a good friend.  Throughout our conversation I found myself defending the ‘boy issues’ that the two of us share.  I also found myself thinking, What is wrong with me?  Why cant’ I just let myself believe, just this once, that I deserve ‘it’? 

I swear I want to believe.  The fight against doing so has gotten harder every day.  But for some reason, I keep finding excuses.  More doubts and insecurities that surface when I think I’m almost there.  I’m closer than I’ve ever been.  I know I am.  But something keeps holding me back.  Whether it’s cynicism or those pesky scars that won’t heal, I don’t know.  All I do know is that I’m not letting myself give up.  Not this time.  Not ever again.  But let me ask this question: Why is it so hard to believe that you are deserving of that you seek to find? 

Song of the Moment: Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol

Earlier Post: Promise me you’ll never let me go on a reality show  

silence of the heart.   Leave a comment

We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

The walk home from the hospital on Tuesday nights always reminds me of Athens, OH: My College Town.  The side streets, loud bars, and one particular 4-way intersection, which I always hope to be abandoned so I can create my own diagonal crosswalk, all bring along a welcomed sense of nostalgia.  It’s the little things in life, kids.  Believe it or not, I used to be one of those college kids in the loud bars (on my beloved Court Street) on Tuesday nights enjoying 25-cent wings, 2-dollar mixed drinks in plastic cups, and a priceless buffet of OU-loving friends.  But that was a long time ago…well, five years ago.

I look forward to that walk so much, even going as far as to turn down rides home in order to have those 20 minutes to myself.  No cell phone. No email. No to-do list. No stress.  Just me, my city, and my nostalgic mind on a romantic walk home after a soulful night of baby therapy.  What more can a girl ask for?

Surrounded by a city of millions and thousands more tourists, silence is a rarity in Chicago.  However, I’m learning that it’s not impossible.  Although silence in terms of noise- or lack thereof- is what many first think of, it is silence of the heart that this girl and many others find themselves looking for something- whether or not we actually know what that something is.

A mere stranger once said to me, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”  At twenty-years old, I didn’t know how to take those words.  What did he see in me?  What did he think I was looking for?  How did he know before I even made this realization? 

During these last seven years, I never stopped to hear the silence.  Too caught up in finding something else, I overlooked what I already had.  Believing that I had to be better, grow up quicker, and become somebody else, I lost sight of myself…except when I walked the streets of Athens.  Usually with Brandon or other friends at times, the streets provided me serenity as I was able to leave the commotion of my restless mind and abandon the desires of my dreamer ways.  I miss those walks.  I miss those run-down streets.  I miss Brandon and his perfect companionship.  I miss Athens a lot.  I miss it even more on Tuesday nights when my nostalgic mind kicks in as I turn onto Fullerton.

I cannot tell you the last time I spent a Tuesday night in a bar, and in a few weeks I’ll be back in Athens for the first time since June.  And while I miss those days dearly, I’m okay with it now.  Because for 20 minutes each week, after I finish my volunteer shift, I can count on my heart to fall silent and clarity to fill my mind.  I can take a deep breath and know that everything is fine.

don’t be scared to walk alone. don’t be scared to like it.   1 comment

As soon as I heard the lyrics, don’t be scared to walk alone; don’t be scared to like it, from John Mayer’s Age of Worry, I knew a post was in order.  But I sit here, 2 days later not really knowing what to write.  In a way I still don’t know, but I’m going to attempt this anyway.  Heaven, help me. 

If you didn’t (have the pleasure) to know me 2 1/2 years ago, then I’ll let you in on a little secret: I was terrified to move to Chicago.  I was afraid of leaving my friends and moving further away from my family.  I was worried about moving to a new place where I (really) knew less than a handful of people.  I was shaken with fear of living on my own, something I personally vowed that I could never do.  But fortunately those days are a thing from the past.  Well…for the most part.   

I woke up this morning and had this overwhelming feeling that I was in the wrong place.  After seeing a few texts from friends and a message in my Inbox from another, I couldn’t shake the notion that I wanted to be anywhere but here.  It pained me to rationalize that I couldn’t be in Cleveland and Cincinnati all at the same time.  Life just isn’t fair.  But, I thought, if I was living back in Columbus again then I’d only be a short two-hour drive to either place.  Heck, I could even visit both places in one day if I really wanted to.  (Note: Don’t prompt me because you know I’ll pull it off.  After all, I am my father’s daughter.) 

Now Kristin, before you start celebrating with wine in a leopard glass and dancing around with joy that your plan worked 😉 …know that while I hope it will one day, today is unfortunately not the day. 

After responding to the texts and writing an email to another love of my life, I rolled over swearing that I could stay in bed all day.  Okay, and maybe, just maybe, I wished that there was a boy laying next to me.  Seriously, is there anything better in life than waking up next to someone…well…someone you really like?  I guess that’s what happens when you fall asleep watching the Aidan episodes of Sex and the City.  Back to my Aidan-less reality and the fact there, of course, wasn’t a guy next to me.  Sadly just a laptop and an alarm clock playing some over-played pop song.  So I pulled myself out of bed to make it to Kelly’s Spin Class in time.

During class my mind wandered to this thought: What if I wasn’t single?  What would that really be like?  Honestly, I have no idea.  Minus a few whatever-relationships in my day, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always been single.  In fact, some of my very best friends are taken back (with shock first, then excitement) when I say, “I met someone”.  (Note: This rarely happens, which you probably know from reading this open book blog of mine.)

I promise you that you’ll never hear me complain about being single.  I’ll never whine about not having a boyfriend.  I just don’t do it.  Part of the reason why is because, truthfully, I’m ok with being single.  Now there are several reasons why I say this, but one reason is my freedom.  I mean how many people in relationships can travel to three different cities in Ohio for three straight weekends?  How many single people can move-in with her friends for a week to help care for her children? 

Now the dreamer that I tend to be wants to believe that Mr. Right with allow me these freedoms because 1) he loves me dearly and 2) wants me to do what makes me happy.  However, in reality, I know this most likely isn’t the case.  But isn’t impossible…right?  Trust me, I hear the advice every day from my co-workers and other older friends, “Enjoy your freedom while I can.  I wish I did more when I was your age.”  While I value their advice, I tend to use my own perspective in seeing what faults lie in the single life. 

For starters, it would be really nice to wake up next to someone and maybe/possibly/hopefully have them make/buy you coffee while you stay under the covers.  Do you even know how many times I’ve daydreamed about that happening?  And maybe I’ve also imagined the whole proposal scene from The Time Traveler’s Wife happening to me.  But only once…or twice.  (Take notes, potential suitors.)

In all honesty, for me, there’s just one thing that I constantly fight about being single.  It’s so silly and probably the main reason why others in relationships desire to have their single man’s freedom back.  So…sometimes…every now and then…I wish that someone would tell me where I’m going or what I’m doing.  See, that’s the single girl in me.  Let me rephrase it by saying that I wish someone would tell me where we are going or what we are doing.  Yes, if I’m still blogging when I’m forty and finally in somewhat of a relationship, you can use this post against me.  Actually, please do.  But really this is how I feel.  Call me crazy.  Say, “Girl, I wish I didn’t have someone decided what ‘we’ are doing all the time.”  And all I can say is, to each his own. 

Two and a half years ago when I was getting ready to move to Chicago, for the first time since my childhood days I wished that I had a boyfriend.  I wanted someone to be by my side as I veered far out of my comfort zone in the world of the unknown.  But it was only me that moved in Apt 807.  And it’s still only me, but with a whole lot of people by my side as I continue on this journey of mine.  I mostly walk these Chicago streets alone as I head towards the train station, to volunteer or back home after a long day.  But it doesn’t scare me anymore to be alone in this city, and in fact, some days it’s what I enjoy the most.  Those rejuvenating walks when it’s just the city and me.  Isn’t it funny how the one thing that used to scare you can one day become the thing you enjoy the most?   

you can sense that she is guarded…that’s alright.   Leave a comment

I’m sorry.  There I was, a few days ago, saying that I use this blog as an open & honest format to help others in similar circumstances realize that they aren’t the only one… but I haven’t been being honest about what I’ve been going through lately.  Mostly it’s because I haven’t had too much time on my hands, but instead of writing about my bed bug stresses I could have very well been sharing some of the thoughts stirring around in my mind & the feelings fluttering around in my stomach.  Again, I’m sorry.

These last two nights I’ve found myself walking home slooooowly, despite the chilly winter air and snow-covered streets.  Why?  I just felt at peace in the moment…like I was able to check in with myself for the first time in a while.  I could have walked those streets forever, especially tonight.  After a rejuvenating run & spin class, I felt like enjoying the company of my endorphin-high self for a while longer before I got back to my apartment and contemplated what had to be done before bed. 

After responding to a few emails, I opted to reflect on what’s been going on with me lately and not worry about neither what I could be doing nor who I should be helping.  And then a thought came over me, or rather, I recalled something that I read a few days ago, by someone that I’ve really begun to admire.  I’ve been reluctant to share this, but my gut feeling tells me that he’d be okay with it especially knowing that it will most likely impact someone(s) as much as it did me.  These wise words of his brought clarity to my run-down body, heart, and soul and I hope it has the same effect on you:

When was the last time you did something for yourself? I’m not promoting selfishness but look, sometimes you gotta do what’s best for you. When you live your life solely for others, you begin to lose sight of who you are. In a way, you replace a tiny part of yourself with those around you until you are no longer you. But when you take that time for yourself, you solidify that part of you that is uniquely you.

Can I admit to you that I hate taking care of myself?  I do.  I really, really do.  One of the most challenging things about moving to Chicago two years ago was being forced to look after myself.  But in coming to Chicago and not knowing more than a handful of people, I didn’t have a choice.  Sure I tried to still take care of the friends I left in Columbus as well as the others scattered around in the post-college world, but it wasn’t as easy and time wasn’t as plentiful as it used to be.  But while it proved to be difficult in the beginning, time has helped me understand the notion that to take care of others, you have to first take care of yourself.   

This past year has been incredible but also quite exhausting.  We laugh when discussing how I’m always traveling (mostly back to Ohio via the lovely Megabus) and how many bridal showers, Bachelorette parties, and weddings I’ve attended.  And while I could sit here and defend all of (travel) choices and say that I feel most like “me” when doing all this stuff- when helping others- I think it’s best to recognize that I need to start refocusing on myself again.  Or maybe let someone look after me for awhile.  Now in putting that crazy idea out on the table, I’ll bluntly state that I am horrible at letting others do anything for me.  You can call me ‘guarded’, say I have trust issues, or that I’m afraid of being betrayed (again).  Whatever the case may be, I think I need to make that the challenge of 2011.  While it’s important to take care of yourself, I think it’s equally important to allow others look after you too…others that want to be there for you. 

Okay, so that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll do my best to let the walls and shields tumble down to allow others in.  To let others give me the strength when I’m feeling weak, or at least hold my hand when walking down the street on a cold winter night with my thoughts.


 I used to think that the way to be strong, was to be tough. I used to think that to be independent, was to not need anyone. But she’s taught me that the more vulnerable you and the softer you are, and the more you allow more people into your life and into your heart, the happier you are and the more valuable you are to other people.
Portia de Rossi on Ellen Degeneres

well this city’s growing cold, from the needle it heats. there’s howling wind rushing through these chicago streets.   Leave a comment

As much as I love people-watching, especially in this crazy city, one of my favorite things is walking the streets of Chicago when they’re empty.  Just me and the open road…Chicago-style, since I don’t have the luxury of driving anymore. After a much-needed spinning class last night, I found myself nearly alone walking through my neighborhood in the chilly air and pouring rain, under the umbrella that I always carry as a just-in-case.  The sounds of rain drops,  howling winds, and my soggy footsteps were exactly all that I needed to hear.  It’s simple moments like these that I treasure the most.  During this walk I found myself with a greater appreciation for this city and for the personal journey I’ve been on since moving here.  If I could have more ‘me’ moments like that, then I’d easily welcome more cold and rainy nights.

Tonight I walked home from the hospital, and as the snowflakes flickered again my skin I didn’t feel cold.  Instead I found myself, once again, enjoying the silence of the streets and taking in this moment of bliss.  Having just spent my evening with two young patients, I was ‘high on life’.  I cannot believe they allowed me to do this. 

With as frantic as these past few days have been, it’s nice to know that I can still count on little moments like these to remind me what’s important in life.  It’s comforting to know that no matter what chaos seems to erupt during the hours of 8:00am- 4:30 pm, that I can still count on feeling welcomed immediately upon stepping into the hospital.  I feel so blessed to have these opportunities and finally know that I discovered exactly where I belong.  Now I just have to keep working hard with hope that someone else sees what I have to give.

morning walk through lincoln park   Leave a comment

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit (me) in Chicago, here’s a quick look at my neighborhood.  Technically I live in Lincoln Park; however I find myself venturing through the streets of East Lakeview more often- which is the bordering neighborhood north of mine.  Just to give you a point of reference, if you continue going northwest you’ll run into Wrigleyville- home to Wrigley Field. 

Anyways, this is my neighborhood.  In fact, at 0:19 on the video clip, you’ll see the infamous/crazy-confusing Broadway/Clark/Diversey intersection that is four blocks away from my apartment.  And at 2:30, the Red Hen Bread is right across the stress from my building.  I love this neighborhood.  There’s everything you need and more, including my home-away-from-home, Starbucks.  Oh and those animals, yeah the Lincoln Park Zoo is about a 5-10 minute walk away.

Since I’m working from home today awaiting the fixing of my apartment lock/door, I knew that I had to get my ‘bucks kick in early since I was dressed and ready around 7 am.  After the shitty day & night I had I’m not really sure how it was possible either.  Now one thing you need to know about me is that I love exploring new routes.  Since I got my license back in the day, I’ve always enjoyed finding different ways to get to places.  Unfortunately there weren’t too many different paths to take home, but I’d mix it up as best I could.

But in Chicago, there is always a new path to take.  For that reason, I’ll announce that I love Chicago.  This morning, I ended up going to another Starbucks instead of my usual one near the Broadway/Clark/Diversey intersection.   To get there I opted to take the more residential streets, ones that I wasn’t so familiar with.  I love doing this.  Not only does it break up the routine, but you never know what new place you’ll find.  The buildings here are so gorgeous.  Walking through the streets, I had the feeling like I could live here forever….or for awhile.  But things certainly need to change because anyone who knows me (or has at least read this blog) knows that I’m not 100% happy in my current situation. 

Still, as I said to my mom the other night, I feel like I cannot give up on Chicago just yet.  Sure, I miss my friends and wish I was closer to my family.  Those are definitely two things making me want to move back to Columbus, OH.  Plus Columbus was the place where I felt most comfortable, maybe too comfortable?  

I guess my question is, how do you know where you home truly is?  For awhile I would have sworn that I had it all in Columbus, but when this opportunity surfaced I knew in my heart that I had to take the risk and move up here.  But now that I’m here, I’m struggling to find that clear sign that this is where I need to stay.  Sure I love walking the streets here and the convenience of my neighborhood, but does that outweigh all of the cons.  If you’re not happy which where you are, then why not leave?   How do you know where you’re- yes, I’m going to say it- meant to be?

before my morning coffee   Leave a comment

Good morning.  It’s Monday….wish it was Sunday.  Yes, I just paraphrased Manic Monday here.  I wouldn’t call today ‘manic’, but I’ll say that my anxiety expectantly visited this morning.  These past few weeks have been the worst (anxiety-wise) for me since starting on Lexapro last summer, but I’m learning how to deal with it better.  I have to credit all of my therapies- yoga, spinning, writing, reading, shopping, Starbucks, and even this blog. 

I’m going to spare you and not give you a detailed account of my weekday morning ritual because 1) you don’t care; 2) I don’t want to be reminded of it.  But once I finally leave the house around 6:45 am (gasp), I’ve discovered the joy of walking to the train station.  There are two different buses I could take, but this 10-15 minute walk has become my ‘me time’.  It’s the one time during my day, until my walk home from the gym, that I really have to myself.  Plus, right now the crisp air feels so refreshing and proves to be a perfect wake-up strategy for me.

On that note, let’s go back to my anxiety-ridden morning.  Now, even though I walk past 2 Starbucks, 1 Caribou, and a Panera each morning, I find it most fitting to get my Venti Soy AmeriMisto at the Skokie Swift/bus stop.  It was a very impatient wait today but I managed, leaving my uncaffeinated mind to wander around in the meantime- causing my anxiety. 

Now I warned you that my pre-coffee mind wanders, and today was no exception.  In fact this morning I reasoned that someone must really love me if they love me in a uncaffeinated state like this.  Yeah, even now that hardly makes sense to me, but I just meant that the early morning me is there with all of her flaws shining through.  Behind the make-up and smile is the most simple girl you’ll ever meet.  A girl who just wants to be happy and make others happy in return.  This can be interpreted as a sappy message, so I’m going to throw in a blah, blah, blah because I can.

Now I could blame this morning’s anxiety on my lack of sleep last night and also on my feelings before bed last night.  And I can also say that some days you have it, and some days you don’t….and today is definitely a don’t.  I think it’s a combination of those three as well as the fact that I heard two songs today that hit me.  Both of these songs have relevant meaning to me from times in my past.  In fact, I’m not even sure if I’ve listened to either one of them in a few years.  The one, Lifehouse’s Everything, is a shout-out to my high school days, when this cd was the best thing to listen to when having a crappy day.  Have I even listened to this song since high school?

The second song is Breathless, originally by Better than Ezra; however, today’s version was performed by Ms Taylor Swift, whose music brings out the teenager in me willingly and freely.

I used to listen to the Better than Ezra version of the song over and over again during my senior year at OU.  It was just one of those songs whose lyrics meant something special to me at the time.   (Breathless lyricsI was having such a difficult time back then- anxiety was at it’s all-time high and I was not aware of how to manage it. 

As I wrote that I remember that it’s been 4 years since that time in my life.  Wow.  It’s remembering those moments in the past that help me get through days like today.  Remember how far I’ve come; how much I’ve grown; the lessons I’ve learned from; and the mistakes that have guided me in life. 

Afterall, we are a lot stronger than we think we are.    ♥ K