Can I write something motivational without being annoying or cliche?

So as I’ve definitely mentioned before, but in moderation, is my faith. I’m a Christian. I got baptized last year, and before you roll over your cursor to X out of this post, give me a chance to show you I can articulate my thoughts without shoving my opinions down your throat.

We good?

Ok, good.

I haven’t always been great at showing up for God. And by showing up, I mean doing things that I know I should do, in favor of things I feel like I want to do.

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Although my prayers have been answered in a lot of big ways that I like – finding a way to write about travel, being inspired creatively, and finding a place in Durham to live…. other smaller, more insignificant universal encouragements have fallen on deaf ears.

There’s a metaphor that my friend Rachel and I use when we’re not paying attention to what God wants. Going around the mountain. Basically, it’s the idea that when you ignore or put off the inevitable – you just have to go through the same experience again and again.

A few months ago, I came to terms with one or two of these things. I realized I was caught in a snare; by being too benevolent, I was doing myself a great disservice. I wasn’t taking enough ownership over my choices.

So I started to pray.

I wrote page after page of the most genuine, and vulnerable prayers, confessions and requests. I jotted down notes when I thought of them – on my phone, on a post-it, wherever. I taped them around my room, on my door frame, on my desk.

I tried to be diplomatic – I considered what was really best for me, versus what I wanted. I followed up on my instinct to declutter and organize my things. I spent an entire Sunday sorting through clothes, boxes, and books — downsizing to just the essentials. I donated the rest.

I finally opted to give into my urge to be healthier – I started going to the gym as often as possible. I started swimming long, leisurely laps in the Y’s pool. I went back to my high school tradition of using the rowing machine – not worrying about how many calories I burned, but instead, losing myself for half hour chunks while listening to Billy Joel.

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I stopped eating junk. I got back on Tinder and started going on dates, cutting out all other romantic entanglements that weren’t working out. I signed up for a snowboarding trip with a group of people I’ve never met.

I made an appointment to get my next tattoo, and finally committed to a Robin Wright haircut. I cleaned out  my car, spent more time with my roommates, and wrote out Valentine’s Day cards for my friends. I bought a fish and named her Walter.

Basically, I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy unless I cut out things that weren’t working for me. In favor of focusing the things that were, or at least, had the potential to. I wanted to give my life a chance as it was, and not what I wished it would be.

I wanted to look at all of the biggest parts of my life – my job, my friends, my family and my abilities – and make the absolute best out of them. That before I could fully reach my potential, I needed to prove that I could show up to my own life. That if my present circumstances were all I’d ever have, that I was meant to have, I would need to prove that I could make the most out of them.

We all owe that to ourselves – and the people who care about us. Right? 

Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting soft. But I will say, that after a frustrating year of trying to make things fit where they just didn’t, it’s refreshing to let things just be as they are.

 

Possibly the most compassionate thing I will ever write.

I write a lot of questionably inappropriate content on this blog. 

There was the complaint about acting your age (still one of my favorite posts), the time I took my clothes off in Asheville (that hyperlink will get some interesting traffic), and various frustrations about dating.

Unfortunately, this post will fall in the last category.

I’ve been waiting to write this post, perhaps out of some slight respect for anonymity. But I feel a duty to write it – for myself, and for women everywhere. But to be entirely transparent, this is not the article that I originally wrote.

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Is the Blue Lagoon Worth it?

During my last trip to Iceland, I didn’t go to The Blue Lagoon.

I don’t remember why, it just didn’t work out. I was cool with it. Whilst hitchhiking, I happened upon Myvatn Nature Baths – basically the same thing, but smaller. Plus, they had cake there.

I wrote a snarky review on Triptease, (a travel site that’s no longer posting content from users), about my experience at Myvatn. I mean, it’s a really big hot tub in nature. That’s the gist of it, and I suspected The Blue Lagoon wasn’t really any different.

Not to disparage either. God, no. Blue Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths are both places to go. If you want to soak, have a drink, plaster white clay all over your face, and then exclaim about how soft your skin is, yes – go to these places.

But do not expect to go alone.

Like any other tourist attraction in the history of mankind, there are people. And lines. And idiots.

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Has Ravi Patel Redefined “The One”?

I’m 28. After countless, awkward first dates, a two year on/off again relationship, and a divorce, I’m still unsure what makes for a successful relationship. Yup.

I’ve accepted that I’ve spent the majority of my 20s in a romantic relationship that inevitably wouldn’t work out. I’ve accepted that despite all the articles I’ve read, anniversaries I’ve celebrated, and times I’ve told my parents that “so and so says hi”, I have not figured it out.

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Melissa Melissa Barcelona

It’s around 2 AM.

I’m scrunched up, in the corner of a beautiful closet. A foot away from me, is one of my oldest friends, also named Melissa. Between us, a bottle of dry, cheap red wine from a market down the block.

I’m reciting Sylvia Plath’s fig tree quote from “The Bell Jar”, with the help of my phone. Melissa is listening intently, as she plays a little with the diamond on her finger.

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“No one will believe you.”

I desperately tap on my phone.

“It’s dead,” I say loudly as someone brushes past me. “Dammit.”

The British equivalent of Aziz Ansari, Shami, grins at me and says, “It doesn’t matter. No one will believe you.”

He starts laughing, near maniacally as he has all night. He disappears into the crowd of young travelers who are crowding up the cozy Icelandic house, drinking tall cans of Heineken and trying to cut down airplane bottles of spirits hanging from the ceiling.

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See you soon.

Yesterday, I visited 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Durham. The museum is open even if you don’t stay there. So, on this beautiful and warm Wednesday, instead of staying cooped up in the office, my supervisor John decided to bring our department there.

Earlier that morning, I was talking to my co-worker Michael (a programmer) via gChat. He’s been pretty buried in work, but emerged momentarily to ask how I was/what was going on in my life. I gave him a quick recap, as I was distracted by other things.

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“Sometimes mistakes are fate.”

As a writer, I’m always trying to fine tune my voice. I read a lot of books and articles, listen to music, and watch Ted Talks to inspire me. I tend to gravitate towards raw, emotionally intelligent and honest expressionists.

No voice has moved me as much as Heather Havrilesky, who goes by the alias “Ask Polly”.  Heather is a columnist for New York Magazine, but her witty, no-bullshit advice has been floating around the internet for years. In times of vulnerability, I’ve constantly read through her impressive collection of advice about work, purpose, love and family.

I aspire to have the kind of emotional impact she has with words.

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In love with the world.

Erica and Melissa’s European Adventure

I’ve finalized my upcoming winter adventure. I’m excited – mostly in quiet moments, where I’m not thinking about my very trivial day to day problems. I was driving in my car this morning, and heard Of Monsters & Men on the radio – and just freaked out.

It’s been two years since I’ve been to Europe. I’m excited to see some “old friends” – downtown Reykjavik, Paris and Berlin, as well as a new one – Barcelona. Barcelona, a city where I will spend the weekend drinking wine with two of my favorite people: my sister, Erica, and my best friend from high school, Melissa.

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