Tag Archives: real life

Longing and then Living.

Longing and then LivingOne of my very best friends–let’s call her Lucy–lives in another state from me. This is nothing new as most of us spread out. I love her a lot and she knows me down deep in my soul. She has also “enjoyed” a front row seat to some of the most painful and difficult parts of my life–from break ups to the inner workings and complications of family. Still, we’ve been a part for awhile and so when she made a comment in the past year about some of the things I struggled with when we did live with each other, sin patterns, and immaturity in certain areas, it kind of bothered me. Not in the way that I would hold it against her but just because in the last year, a lot has changed for me. I have changed. I can practically feel myself growing in certain moments, specifically in conflict and how I handle it. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into the person I was at twenty one.

It probably also bothered me because sometimes I feel as if parts of my family still view me and my actions with a lens that shoots me at sixteen or eighteen years ago. Those were definitely not my finest years. I don’t think they are anyone’s finest but add a divorce and all the things that come with that and I was no fun.Longing and then Living

Along with a bundle of other books, I’ve been enjoying Donald Miller’s Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (kindle | hardcover). For years, I have struggled with a particular relationship in my life. I’ve tried creating boundaries (Dr. Henry Cloud anyone? Another great read Changes that Heal and less than two dollars kindle | paperback). I’ve tried playing by this person’s rules (which is not possible, at least for me). I’ve tried taking steps back. I’ve tried taking entire breaks. Once I even convinced myself to end the relationship completely. But this isn’t a boyfriend or a friend. This isn’t someone I can or want completely out of my life.

The problem is that as Miller writes, our hearts deserve protecting and “some people are not safe” (69).

After yet another break several months ago, I decided to keep it very casual. This is a lot easier said then done because where I come from? The Italians? We love hard and tight and we are all in each other business. But this time was different because something changed for me and Donald Miller put into words:

“After distancing myself from my friend I loved him more, not less. I protected myself for sure, but my anger went away. Once he wasn’t hurting me anymore, I could finally have compassion and grace” (71).

I can say that I am there. After years and years of tears, sobbing until I could barely breathe in my bed, on the bathroom floor, panic attacks, and hurt that felt as if it stretched me wide open with an ache so intense I found other ways, little ways, to hurt myself to lessen this huge, gaping wound, I can say that this person doesn’t hurt me anymore. That doesn’t mean this person doesn’t do hurtful things or things that in the past would have bruised and wrecked me. It does mean that the anger is gone and in its place there is the compassion and grace Miller writes about.

I never thought I would get here. Part of it is just growing up. Part of it is growing out, being sanctified by the Lord. Things are in a good place right now, at least on my end, and as far I know, on the other person’s end as well. For so long, while I was doing that sobbing on the bathroom floor, I was begging God to change the other person. I still pray for that person but they are very different prayers. Like Donald Miller describes, love and grace and compassion have filled the space where anger lived for so long. It’s me that’s done the changing.

And I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be–if one wants to stop sobbing on the bathroom floor.

I longed for freedom and I didn’t know what that meant. It would hurt too badly to cut this person out and it hurt to have them in my life. I longed for freedom without any clear picture of what it looked like. Now, in this area, I have it. I just have to keep choosing to live in it. Thank God.

This is one of those life verses for me. I’ll write about it soon. It applies to every area of my life:freedom

Love you. Mean it.



P.S. There is a second post coming today about a super important topic. And next Thursday, you know the days when I get really real, I’m going to tell you about a date I went on. Finally, starting tomorrow with the best giveaway I’ve ever done (with some great other bloggers) into next week, get ready for a summer filled to the brim with fun content. I’m pushing and challenging myself and I think you will enjoy it.

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The Truth About Adventures

dorothy what face

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While I did pack a suitcase for a job interview across the country in a city where I knew exactly zero people and while I got that job, found a sublease, and started, living out of a suitcase within a week, I want to be honest.

Whenever people hear about the last year and a half of my life, they act like I did something either insane or miraculous. Mine is not a family that leaves one another. For most of my life, everyone I loved was within easy driving distance. So to leave was a big decision and risk. “You’re so brave! I could never do that,” people say to me.

golden gate bridge

Here’s the truth: I am not that brave; I just didn’t have time to think it through.


Sometimes you leap. A lot of adventures start that way. I leapt.

I had time to pack and get on a flight. That’s it. Once I got there, I had time to do the interview. Once I got the job, I had time to find a sublease. Once, I found a sublease, it was time to start work. And on it went. Basic needs met. In a way, my life became completely simplified. After signing my own lease, I needed a bed because…well, that’s what I needed. So that was my priority I couldn’t think about sheets because I didn’t have a mattress! I don’t really consider it bravery so much as the Big Guy not giving me any time to hyperventilate.


That being said, I want to tell you the truth about some adventures. There will be moments that stop your heart in your chest because of their stunning beauty. There will be moments you know you will hold in your head for the rest of your life, so sacred you rarely speak of them. But adventures are not easy things. Inherently, adventures include difficulties, right?

Here is the truth about life’s adventures. At least in my own experience thus far.

1. There will be moments when you want to cry. There will be moments when you want to curl up in a tiny ball and wait for someone with loving arms to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of. But you are on adventure. If someone does take care of you, he or she certainly won’t take care of everything. That person will not be someone you expect or are used to. It takes humility to accept help from this stranger. They didn’t give birth to you. Or maybe no one shows up. You have to pick yourself up and figure it out. And sometimes, just to be frank, that really sucks.

2. You can’t leave everything or everyone behind. The fact is, you lived a life before this adventure, this season of your life, and even if you wanted to erase everything and everyone from before, you couldn’t. They have impacted you for better or for worse. Now, you get to decide what to do with that. I am not advising you to carry emotional (or physical, to be honest) baggage wherever you go. But in my experience, if you think location will help you escape a problem, it’s actually an even bigger problem than you realize. Secondly, memories, both good and bad, are a part of me. Even in this new city, they come back to me. Some things I wish I could forget. But if Cher could not turn back time, I can’t either. I can move forward though. And it’s good and healthy and right.

3. There are Pros to life pre-adventure. It’s just a fact. I promised myself that I would not be the girl who came home to Chicago that first time and said, “Well, in San Francisco we do this and San Francisco is so much better than here because…” (I mostly succeeded but the first time I came home was winter and I know I made some cracks about the weather). But on the flip side, there are things about mundane suburbia, I sure do miss. I won’t lie to you about it. Some days, I really long for a bag of chips and some Whole Foods guacamole and mango salsa, but then I remember I have to take a cab over to Whole Foods. Or I realize I have no clean clothes. None. And I remember I don’t live in a house with a washer and dryer just ready (and free!) for my own use. (To think of all the times I complained about doing laundry; I didn’t know how good I had it.) (Also, yes, I have bought new undies just so I could get through one more week without doing the wash.) This doesn’t mean don’t go on adventures but it isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time. Life is not like that. There are pros and cons to any life situation. For me, it’s actually, upon reflection, helped me appreciate a life, I didn’t value while I was living it. As I go forward, I want to value the season of life I am in, even if it is hard, because there is always pros and cons to any situation.

4. There are all types of adventures. Never belittle a fellow adventurer. Or yourself. I’m not married and I don’t have kids. Do i want those things? Yes. But in God’s perfect timing, if I had them at 24, I would never have fallen in love with the city of San Francisco. Still, I have friends that are married with kids. I don’t think they are “tied down” and I am “free.” I truly believe, after this last year and a half, that there are all types of adventures. Some work out and some don’t. Sometimes life’s circumstances actually make it easier or harder for a particular adventure to take place. But you know what mom said: until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes, no judgement. Honestly, I think motherhood will someday be a great adventure. Some of my friends already are on that adventure. And I am sure some of them (well, I am sure since they told me) love their kids but wish they had one last, stellar, solo adventure for the record books, to get to know themselves better. But we are co-adventurers. Get it? Got it? Good.

5. Homesickness is real thing. I’ve always been extremely independent. I don’t think it surprised people who knew me that I could leave. It’s strange though. I miss family and friends in waves. Sometimes it is particularly poignant. And other times, I don’t really think about it. But I have to leave you with this. Right now, my little sister, with over twenty years and a country between us, is obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. Obsessed.

Dorothy got to go on this amazing adventure with some great shoes (and her little dog, too!). She encountered people and things she never expected. She was pushed beyond what she thought herself capable. But at the end of the adventure, she still says, “There is no place like home.”


For some people, home is not a place. It is a voice on the telephone. It is loopy cursive on snail mail. It’s a funny text message. But upon adventuring, know that there are people and places that forged you, that understand you in ways that are impossible to explain. Some connections go so far back they are nearly magical.

So yes, by all means, be adventurers! I just want to be honest about mine.



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On the Last Day of 2013.

Still sick, I’m taking an abriged look at 2013.

In 2013, I learned



  • -to complain less than I did in 2012. Hopefully, I complain less in 2014 than I did in 2013.Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 6.18.36 PM
  • -I don’t need the approval or permission of people.
  • -even I have limits.
  • -I need and want to be organized.
  • -I would rather risk it all now and fail than have regrets
  • -I want to keep not settling. No matter what.
Print is from the Everygirl, an amazing online mag, and their new shop, which I am obsessed with

Print is from the Everygirl, an amazing online mag, and their new shop, which I am obsessed with

  • -family is important. I actually like my family.
  • mugs are more popular than I knew.



  • -I can’t put other things, even good things, ahead of my health.
  • -San Francisco is home for now


Here’s to 2014. 





And to get you in the mood…Auld Lang Syne which always puts a lump in my throat, particularly this version.

Here’s the best NYE scene; my aunt and I can reenact it; don’t even worry!

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Tidings of Comfort and Joy??

First, I wanted to let you know that StraightMugging is having a huge sale with new styles. Check it out and use the coupon code COMFORTANDJOY for 15% off. 

I often describe my mom as a pinterest mom before pinterest existed. For as long as I can remember–be it a school project or a Christmas card–my mom is the ultimate when it comes to creativity.

Below is a Christmas card that my family sent out many, many years ago. My brother and I were obviously not cooperating . I actually remember the day. Joe, a baby, was genuinely crying and then I just decided well this stinks, and decided to cry too. bah humbug

My mom took lemons and made lemonade and to this day, people talk about this card. Every year, I make this my profile picture on facebook and every year, I get many, many, many comments and likes. This, in fact, is probably one of the most infamous moments of my childhood and friends and family still talk about my mom’s creativity.

I would warn you to not to mimic it but I just don’t think you can. Those are genuine tears.



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When Christmas is not Perfect.

I want to write about something that a lot of people don’t talk about, including myself. In fact, for many years, I lived in blissful denial until reality smacked me in the face, each and every time. For some people, the holidays can be difficult.joy

Yes, I know that this acknowledgement doesn’t have everyone running for Christmas cookies and singing Christmas carols. In fact, maybe you just threw the cookies at the screen, stuck your fingers in your ear and started singing extremely loudly, “Fa la la la la la la la la…”

I know this isn’t true for everyone but I was blessed enough that both my mom’s family and my dad’s family got along well enough that we spent holidays together as a group. That’s rare and special and I treasure those memories very much.

Then my parent’s divorced.

Here is the lie I told myself: Nothing really is going to change. Your parents still love you. Your parents still parent you together. Your parents respect one another and care for one another and even laugh together. Count your freaking blessings. It’s Christmas! Joy to the World, NINA!

I don’t blame myself for telling myself this lie. In a way, I needed to tell myself this lie. But the lie got me into trouble, especially during the holidays. Because I would sing Christmas carols and wrap presents and talk about advent as the day approached without even thinking about the lie I told myself. Then the day would happen (it could be any holiday, but let’s focus on Christmas) and I would wake up with this unbearable sadness that I took out on everyone around me in the form of meanness. Total Christmas cheer for everyone, right? Joy to the world is right.

Finally, after a couple of years of reality smacking me in the face, I admitted: holidays are difficult in some ways and that is okay. It is okay that it makes me sad that not everyone can be together. It’s okay that it makes me a little sad even when I am having a great time with my dad’s family because one crucial person is missing–my mom. And It’s okay that it makes me a little sad when I am laughing with my mom’s family too. It’s okay to admit that it is not fun to leave one family’s house early to go to dessert at the other house.**

This bit of sadness comes from a good and healthy place. It’s not wrong to feel it (which is what I thought when I lied to myself and took it out on others). So now, I feel it. I let it wash over me. I go into the holiday knowing the push and pull that is in my heart (not because anyone ever makes me feel guilty) because who doesn’t want to be with everyone they love on Christmas?

It’s not just divorce either. If we’ve lost someone, we can feel the joy of Christmas morning but also be very aware of who is missing. I would argue that we are more aware of loss on the days that our families come together. And that’s okay. What do we expect of ourselves?

I learned that I could feel this way without sinking into that feeling, that in fact, admitting it, kept me from sinking into it and becoming withdrawn or angry on the actual day. And yes, I realize I am a grown woman, and on a daily basis there is no woe is me about the divorce, but on holidays, yes, there are hard parts.

I am by no means an expert but the biggest piece of advice I can give people is to actually allow themselves to feel however they are feeling (and no, that does not mean I am suggesting anyone wallow in it) and to actually consider the day before the day happens so there isn’t an avalanche of feeling on Christmas morning. If you need to talk about it, talk about it…beforehand. With someone it is safe to talk about these types of things with. But, don’t try to talk about it on the actual day, because I don’t think I need to spell out for you how that is a recipe for a domino effect of depression. Haha?

Do the best you can and give yourself grace.Hope

Please know that I will be doing these same things this Christmas. I am in process, constantly. Aren’t we all?

*My disclaimer that I must give is that I continue to be blessed by my family. Everyone, and I mean everyone, works very hard to make it easier for both Joe and I, whether that means eating dinner earlier than normal or just saying to us over and over again, “It’s okay. Do not feel bad. It’s okay” when we leave early. I am never made to feel guilty (I can only imagine how difficult that would be in a situation like this); I am well aware that people in similar situations cannot always say this. I am encouraged to spend as much time as I want or is necessary with either side of the family by either side of the family. My nonna puts together a plate of her infamous, delicious shells for my cousins on my mom’s side because they still miss them. My mom gives my nonna a Christmas present. The place my feelings come from is a good place because I am blessed to have all these incredible people in my life .

Last Christmas. Nothing is difficult about this little girl. I mean, emotionally speaking. Haha.

Last Christmas. Nothing is difficult about this little girl. I mean, emotionally speaking. Haha.

You know those Christmas cards that are pouring into your mailbox? They are great and I love them. I do. But just know, that is a picture. That is a flat image. Christmas doesn’t always go as beautifully as those cards. Something burns. Someone brings up politics. Whatever it may be. Isn’t that why people love the Griswold Family so much? I mean, maybe it’s just us, but my family could be the Griswolds. But then I remember, and I suggest gently that you also remember, that Christmas is not actually about you or me or decking the halls with boughs of holly.

It actually IS about Joy to the world.

…and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling a certain way. But don’t relish in it either. Relish in The Joy.

Okay, so I hope I handled that diplomatically and graciously.





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